Are you bothered by red, itchy eyes? You may have allergies.
Eye Allergy Specialist Serving Danbury and Stamford CT
If you experience itchy, stinging, watery and red eyes from eye allergies, that is nothing to sneeze at (pun intended). Eye allergies can affect your ability to work, read, and enjoy the outdoors, but more importantly, eye allergies cause us to rub our eyes which can increase the risk of an eye infection by 50 times, as well as increasing the risk of other more serious complications and conditions.
There is no better place to take care of your allergies and put a spring in your step (another pun intended) than at our state of the art eye care center servicing Danbury and Stamford. Our optometrists have extensive experience and use the latest technology to assess the cause of your allergies and provide a custom designed treatment plan to help you get back to normal.
One common misconception is that eye allergies can be managed effectively with over the counter medication. While in some cases that may work, in many cases an optometrist will be able to advise on more effective solutions.
Is An Eye Allergy Exam Covered By Insurance?
Your visit to the optometrist will be billed to your medical insurance as opposed to your vision insurance. Treatment of eye allergies also referred to as allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergies, is a covered medical service for most insurances.
Medical eye services include any medical complaint such as pink eye, dry eye, allergies, and diabetes). Approved testing will in many cases need a co-pay.
What Causes An Eye Allergy?
Eye allergies, or any allergies for that matter, occur when the immune system is hypersensitized to a stimulus in the environment that comes into contact with the eye.
The allergen stimulates the antibodies in the cells of your eyes to respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause the eyes and surrounding tissue to become inflamed, red, watery, burning and itchy.
- Airborne substances found in nature such as pollen from flowers, tree pollen, grass or trees.
- Indoor allergens such as pet dander, dust or mold.
- Irritants such as cosmetics, chemicals, cigarette smoke, or perfume.
Tips for Coping With Eye Allergies
Allergies can go from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Knowing how to alleviate symptoms and reduce exposure can greatly improve your comfort and quality of life, particularly during allergy season which can last from April until October.
- Stay indoors and keep windows closed when pollen counts are high, especially in the mid-morning and early evening.
- Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes, not only from UV rays but also from airborne allergens.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes, this can intensify symptoms and increase irritation. When the eyes get itchy, it is difficult not to rub and scratch them. However, rubbing the eyes can aggravate the allergic cascade response, making them more swollen, red, and uncomfortable.
- Check and regularly clean your air conditioning filters.
- Keep pets outdoors if you have pet allergies and wash your hands after petting an animal.
- Use dust-mite-proof covers on bedding and pillows and wash linens frequently.
- Clean surfaces with a damp cloth rather than dusting or dry sweeping.
- Remove any mold in your home.
- Reducing contact lens wear during allergy season or switch to daily disposable contact lenses.
- When itching begins, immediately place a cold compress over your eyes for a few minutes. If you don’t have a compress, wrap some ice cubes in a wash cloth. This is also a great option for children as it keeps them from rubbing their eyes and minimizes chemicals being put into eyes from other treatments.
- Put a bottle of sterile saline solution, preservative-free contact lens solution or a commercial eye wash product in the fridge to chill and then use it to rinse out itchy eyes. This is particularly beneficial if your eyes have been exposed to dust and pollen.
- Preservative-free over the counter eye drops are best as those with strong preservatives tend to sting the eye. Avoid drops that promise to “get the red out” as they don’t help allergy symptoms or offer treatment. Instead, they constrict blood vessels which can have significant side effects.
- If symptoms persist, an optometrist will diagnose and prescribe medications to treat the condition. Prescription eye drops are more effective at reducing inflammation and itch. Some are gentle enough that they are approved for use in children as young as two years old.
- When in doubt, make an appointment with an optometrist because your family’s vision is too important to jeopardize
Treatment for Eye Allergies
Treatment for the uncomfortable symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis includes over-the-counter and prescription drops and medications. It is best to know the source of the allergy reaction to avoid symptoms.
Often people wait until the allergy response is more severe to take allergy medication, but most allergy medications work best when taken just prior to being exposed to the allergen. Consult your eye doctor about your symptoms and which treatment is best for you.
Finding the right treatment for your allergies can make all the difference in your quality of life, particularly during the time of year when most of us like to enjoy the outdoors.
- Artificial tears (to reduce dryness)
- Decongestant eyedrops
- Oral antihistamines
Prescription medications include eyedrops such as antihistamines, mast-cell stabilizers, or stronger decongestants as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids.
Immunotherapy which are allergy injections given by an allergist is sometimes also helpful to assist your body in building up immunity to the allergens that elicit the allergic response.
If no allergy medicine is on hand, even cool compresses and artificial tears can help alleviate symptoms.