Eye allergies can range from a slight inconvenience to being a major cause of vision impairment. Seeking help from an ophthalmologist for eye allergies not only prevents the progression of the condition but determines the cause in the first place. 

There are other conditions, as well as allergies, that can cause similar symptoms. This makes early diagnosis essential. If itchy, sore, watery, red eyes are making your life a misery, then the sooner the condition is determined, the faster an effective treatment plan can be put in place.

Allergies and Dry Eyes: The different conditions

  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Sub-conjunctivital hemorrhage
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis
  • Other conditions

Dry eye syndrome

Also called Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, this is a condition where the eyes either don’t produce enough tears or, if they do, don’t contain the right components to effectively lubricate the eye. It causes the eyes to feel gritty and scratchy and often leads to excessive watering. You might also notice stringy mucus in the eyes.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Caused by a particular allergen, such as plant pollen or smoke. Classic symptoms are that of watery, itchy, red eyes, and sometimes the skin around them can become swollen.

Sub-conjunctivital hemorrhage

This is where red lines or spots appear on the whites of the eye/s. It’s usually symptomless, and you might not even be aware of it unless someone tells you or you look at your reflection.

Giant papillary conjunctivitis

A condition that affects those who wear contact lenses, with symptoms such as redness, itching, watery eyes, altering vision, and drooping eyelids. Removing the contact lenses might not improve the symptoms.

Other conditions

Other conditions include bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, excessive tearing, corneal abrasion, chalazion, and blepharitis. 

The key takeaway regarding all the various conditions is that most of them have very similar symptoms, namely redness, itching, watering, possible vision changes, and perhaps swelling. Effective treatment differs depending on the diagnosis, making it essential to consult an ophthalmologist if eye allergies are causing you concern.

Diagnosis of Eye Allergies

  • Eye exam

Eye exam

The first thing your ophthalmologist will do is carry out a detailed eye examination. This is essential to determine if it’s an allergy, infection, or dry eye syndrome. This will be carried out using a magnifying instrument and, if necessary, samples might be sent for testing.

A detailed history will be taken, asking you about any known allergies, family allergies, past medical history, any medication you might take (prescribed and over the counter), and other questions, such as do you have pets or whether the symptoms change throughout the day.

Treatment Options for Eye Allergies

  • How an Ophthalmologist treats eye allergies

How an Ophthalmologist treats eye allergies

Your treatment will be dependent on the diagnosis and is likely to consist of a combination of methods. Some of the options include:

Allergen avoidance: If an allergen is determined (and there might be multiple) then avoidance is the first line of defense. Your ophthalmologist will advise on ways to do this. 

Antibiotics: If an infection is present this will be treated with antibiotics. These might be oral or ointment-based. 

Artificial tears: These help wash away allergens within the eye, providing instant relief. If your eyes are irritated and dry these can help with lubrication and the relief of symptoms.

Oral antihistamines: Oral antihistamines are an option and in mild cases can help reduce itchy eyes. However, in some cases, they can worsen the symptoms of eye allergies because they tend to make the eyes dry. 

Eye drops: Eye drops containing various medications are often prescribed. Options include corticosteroids, antihistamines, mast-cell stabilizers, and decongestants.

Immunotherapy shots: In cases where eye drops and medication don’t control the symptoms your ophthalmologist might consider immunotherapy.

Contact Brent Bellotte MD. Ophthalmologist: Eye allergies and dry eyes specialist

The key to treating any eye allergy or infection issue is early treatment. With so many possible conditions presenting with similar symptoms, consulting an ophthalmologist with eye allergies experience is essential. Brent Bellotte MD., the lead clinician at the West Boca Eye Center, provides a dedicated eye allergy service to ensure the optimal treatment of all such conditions.

To take advantage of his expert ophthalmologist eye allergies service, get in contact now at westbocaeyecenter.com