Dry Eyes & Allergies

Eye allergies are a common condition that affects many people. Some find their conditions worsen at certain times of the year, when pollen from trees, grass, and other flora are present in the air. For others, irritants, such as pet hair or smoke, cause their condition to flare up. Common eye allergy symptoms include redness, sore eyes, itching, excessive watering, and general irritation. While some people effectively treat eye allergies with over-the-counter medication, many need to seek out the services of an eye allergy doctor to effectively manage their condition. This is because the symptoms can be so severe that they interfere with everyday life—including severe sneezing, itching, and a general feeling of being unwell.

Before Dry Eye & Allergy Treatment

Eyes are dry, itchy, red or irritated. These issues leave individuals uncomfortable on a day-to-day basis and severeness of symptoms vary for each individual.

After Dry Eye & Allergy Treatment

These eye issues cannot be completely cured but treatment will help reduce your discomfort and protect your eyes.

How Do I Know if I Need to Find an Eye Allergy Specialist Near Me?

If eye allergy symptoms are severe or last for an extended period then you’ll probably need help from an eye allergy specialist. They will be able to determine the best method of alleviating the symptoms. The most common signs of eye allergies are:

  • Itching eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Hazy, blurred vision
  • Redness (hence sometimes being referred to as pink eye)
  • Swelling
  • Scaling around the eyes

Both eyes are usually affected. You might also experience nasal symptoms, such as sneezing, and a runny or blocked nose. The condition is caused by exposure to an irritating substance—known as an allergen—like dust, smoke, or pollen. Although the allergen is harmless, the body’s immune system mistakes it for being a threat. It reacts by releasing antibodies, which are chemicals that fight the perceived threat. It’s these that cause the uncomfortable symptoms of allergies.

There are many over-the-counter medications you can purchase to help combat eye allergies. However, if these don’t control the condition to a level where you can comfortably continue with normal life, then an allergy eye specialist can determine a treatment plan to effectively combat the symptoms.

What Happens During Eye Allergy Treatment?

There is no cure for the condition. Eye allergy treatment is all about management and determining what works for your situation. Your eye allergy doctor will first need to take a detailed history to find out what allergen (or allergens) you react to. They will ask you many questions, such as:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • How long has the condition gone on for?
  • Is it all year round or seasonal?
  • Is it worse when exposed to animals/pets?
  • Do you have any medical condition, especially asthma and/or eczema?
  • Is there a family history of eye allergies/allergic conjunctivitis
  • Have you tried any over-the-counter treatments? If so, what are they and do they alleviate the symptoms to any extent?

The eye specialist will then examine your eyes. This is to rule out any other conditions (such as pink eye)  and to check for typical eye allergy signs such as swollen blood vessels within the eye. They may also take a swab from the eye tissue and test it for white blood cells.

Once the specialist has diagnosed an eye allergy they follow a stepwise approach as to appropriate treatment. Depending on the trigger/s, the treatment is likely to be a combination of allergen avoidance/reduction and the use of various products. For instance, if you’re allergic to pet dander then it’s advisable to keep all animals out of the bedroom, as well as washing your hands immediately after touching them. For those who suffer from pollen allergies, staying inside when the pollen count is highest (often mid-morning and early evening) and wearing sunglasses when outside will help reduce the exposure. While over-the-counter medications include artificial tears, oral antihistamines, and decongestants, your eye allergy specialist has many more options available to prescribe. These include:

  • Antihistamine eye drops: These can provide almost instant relief from itching and redness, but often need to be applied multiple times per day when symptoms are acute.
  • Mast cell stabilizer eye drops: Used before you’re exposed to a trigger, they prevent the release of histamine and other chemicals that are the cause of eye allergy symptoms. 
  • Combination eye drops: If both antihistamine and mast cell stabilizers are needed then you might be prescribed eye drops that contain both.
  • NSAID eye drops: NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) effectively reduce the pain and itching of allergy symptoms.
  • Corticosteroids: Another type of eye drop, corticosteroids tend to be prescribed if none of the above-mentioned provide relief. They are very effective, but require regular monitoring by an ophthalmologist as extended use can raise the risk of eye infection, glaucoma, and cataracts.

Immunotherapy: For those who don’t respond to a combination of the above, immunotherapy shots might be the answer. These introduce tiny doses of the allergen into the body and are gradually increased over time. This allows the body to develop an immunity to them.

Does WBEC Have the Best Eye Allergy Doctor Near Me?

Dr. Brent Bellotte, lead clinician at the West Boca Eye Center offers a service dedicated to eye allergy treatment. Because no two cases of allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies) are the same, it’s vital to partner with a specialist with extensive experience of treating allergy conditions.

Bellotte is globally-renowned for bringing cutting-edge treatments to his patients, meaning the WBEC can often offer solutions not yet available elsewhere. For those with severe, chronic eye allergy conditions, this can be life-changing. With substances as common-place as pollen, smoke, chemicals used in cleaning fluids, dust, dust mites, and even food ingredients being the cause of many eye allergies, it can be difficult or impossible to minimize exposure in all situations. This makes additional treatment necessary.

For those suffering from the less-common conditions of vernal keratoconjunctivitis, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, or giant papillary conjunctivitis, prompt, effective treatment is essential to reduce and control what can be life-affecting symptoms. This is where the expertise of Brent Bellotte MD. is second-to-none, meaning that many people travel to take advantage of the West Boca Eye Center difference.

Tips to Alleviate Dry Eye Symptoms

Learn how to properly clean your eyes, what activities to avoid and what tips you can use to alleviate irritation and other dry eye symptoms. We also provide a detailed guide of products that will sufficiently alleviate your dry eye symptoms.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a condition in which your eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears do not have the normal chemical makeup. Another name for dry eye syndrome is keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the clear membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the white of the eye. Conjunctivitis is sometimes called pink eye.

What is allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is an allergic reaction on the surface of the eyes. It is a very common condition that occurs when your eyes come in contact with allergy-causing substances (allergens). Pollen, cat dander, and smoke are examples of allergens.

What is a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

Subconjunctival hemorrhage is red lines or spots on the part of the eye that is usually white. The redness is usually harmless and painless. You may not know your eyes are red until someone tells you or you look in a mirror.

What is giant papillary conjunctivitis?

Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is eye irritation that can develop when you wear contact lenses.

What are eye allergy symptoms?

Depending on the type of eye allergy you suffer from, symptoms range from mild to severe. Some or all of the following might be present:

  • Itching
  • Excessive watering
  • Burning
  • Swelling and puffiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness
  • Mucous production
  • Scaling of the skin around the eyes
  • Dark circles beneath the eyes
  • Grittiness
  • Feeling like there’s a foreign object in the eyes
  • Photophobia
  • Inability to wear contact lenses

How to treat eye allergies

Eye allergies are treated in various ways. While there is no definitive cure (as the condition is caused by exposure to allergens), treatment consists of:

  • Reduction to the exposure to triggers (pollen, pet dander, dust, etc)
  • Artificial tears
  • Oral antihistamines
  • Eye drops containing antihistamines and/or mast cell stabilizers
  • NSAID eye drops
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunotherapy shots

In all cases of severe eye allergies, it’s essential to have regular assessments from an ophthalmologist experienced in treating eye allergies. This is because some kinds can (rarely) cause complications that lead to visual impairment.

What is the puffy eye allergy treatment?

Allergies that cause puffy eyes can have several triggers. It’s important to be assessed by an allergy eye specialist to diagnose your particular condition. Once done, a course of treatment will be prescribed. While there is no cure for eye allergies, there are many solutions that effectively reduce or prevent the symptoms. 

These include artificial tears, oral antihistamines, eye drops, mast cell stabilizers, NSAID eye drops, corticosteroids, and immunotherapy injections.

Is it pink eye or allergies?

The term “pink eye” is often used interchangeably for allergies and eye infections. However, pink eye differs in that it’s caused by a bacteria or viral infection, both of which are highly contagious. Allergies are caused by exposure to an allergen and aren’t infectious.

While pink eye from a viral or bacterial infection have similar symptoms, such as redness, itching, and tearing, bacterial conjunctivitis also presents with mucous production. This dries and forms a yellow or green crust that can cause the eyelids to stick together.

What is the best eye drops for allergies?

There are many eye drops available to treat eye allergies. You can purchase artificial tears from the drug store, but other types are only available on prescription. They include:

  • Antihistamine
  • Mast cell stabilizers
  • Combination eye drops that contain both antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers
  • NSAIDs
  • Corticosteroids

The type that’s best for you will depend on the severity of your condition and presentation of the allergy. A specialist eye allergy doctor will be able to prescribe and assess which one or combination is the best for you.

What is swollen eye allergy treatment?

There are different treatments available for swollen eyes caused by allergies. Over-the-counter treatments include artificial tears and oral antihistamines. If these fail to have the desired effect, then treatment from an eye allergy doctor will be needed. 

An ophthalmologist that provides eye allergy treatment will determine what’s appropriate for your condition. This might include eye drops, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, or immunotherapy shots.

Can allergies cause pink eye?

Pink eye and allergies are two different conditions, although they both present with some similar symptoms. Reddening, excessive watering, and itching are common to both, but pink eye tends to come with mucous production that dries to a greeny-yellow crust around the eye. It’s caused by a virus or bacteria and is highly contagious.

Allergies are caused by exposure to allergens, and this doesn’t usually lead to pink eye. The exception might be if you rub your eyes to ease itching and inadvertently introduce the bacteria or virus into the eyes.

What are the best eye drops for allergies?

There are many different eye drops available to treat eye allergies. Determining which will work for you is best determined by an eye allergy specialist. Eye doctors can prescribe a range of eye drops, including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Mast cell stabilizers
  • NSAIDs
  • Corticosteroids

Some options contain no preservatives, something that’s necessary for some people. By far the fastest way to experience relief from eye allergies is to visit an ophthalmologist who specializes in treating such conditions.