Eye Allergies

It’s definitely that time of year again. You walk outside, and your usually black car somehow became yellow overnight. Pollen is everywhere and pollen counts are higher than they will be for the rest of the year. Patients come flooding to their eye doctor begging for relief. The most common symptom patients complain of is itching, followed by redness and tearing.

Eye Allergy Treatments

What are some things you can do at home to help alleviate this problem? The first line treatment is avoidance of the pollen or whatever allergen is affecting you. Wash your hands and face frequently, especially if you spent time outside and avoid touching your eye or dabbing the eye directly with q-tips or Kleenex. Second line is often over-the-counter non-prescription eye drops such as Zaditor, Alaway, or the generic equivalent Ketotifen. These drops typically provide itch relief, which eventually helps decrease redness, but can take a week or so for symptoms to improve after using the drops twice a day, every day. These drops can sting a bit when you put them in, or even blur vision temporarily, but these are not necessarily reasons to stop using the drops.

Patients often take over the counter medicines such Allegra or Zyrtec, but these pills often have the side effect of drying out the eyes which can worsen redness or irritation. Using tear drops can help alleviate these side effects. As always, avoid any drops that cause vasoconstriction and have a tag line of, “Gets the red out,” because they typically are not good long-term solutions for your symptoms and can cause more problems in the long run.  Typically we can diagnose allergic eye disease just with symptoms, but sometimes these symptoms mimic pinkeye, so if you have some odd symptoms other than the usual seasonal allergies it is still a good idea to see your eye doctor to confirm.

Take Home Points

  • Eye allergy symptoms: Itching, redness, watery eyes, often accompanied by runny nose and history of seasonal allergies
  • First line treatment: wash hands, avoid touching eyes
  • Second line treatment: over the counter drops such as Zaditor, Alaway, or generic Ketotifen, used twice a day every day during allergy season