If you habitually suffer from itchy, red, or watery eyes, particularly if these symptoms come and go with the seasons, you will probably benefit from a visit to an allergy clinic.
There, a specialist can talk to you about your symptoms, run some tests, and determine whether you are suffering from ocular allergies. If so, you and the doctor will then discuss treatment options.
People who suffer from eye allergies experience inflammation of the tissues in and around the eye in response to an otherwise harmless substance in the environment.
In addition to itching and redness, vision can become blurry, and sensitivity to light can increase. Pollen, pet dander, and mold spores are common causes, so as you might expect, eye allergies often occur alongside hay fever that causes sneezing and a runny nose.
Ocular allergies themselves are very rarely dangerous, but more serious conditions, such as infections, can present with the same symptoms, so it’s important to visit an ocular allergy clinic to rule out these other conditions.
Ocular Allergy Testing
To determine whether you’re suffering from ocular allergies or something else, the doctor will first talk to you about you and your family’s history with allergies. Then the doctor will examine your eyes with a slit lamp to get a close-up look at the surface and blood vessels of your eye.
If your symptoms are especially severe or if there is some question about the diagnosis, the doctor may gently scrape the tissue around your eye and test it for a certain type of white blood cell.
Once it’s confirmed that you have ocular allergies, the test to determine what is causing them is very similar to the test given for all other non-food allergies.
The doctor will gently scratch the skin of your arm and apply different allergens. If one causes you to react, you may experience itchiness and swelling comparable to a mosquito bite, but these symptoms should fade within an hour.
Ocular Allergy Treatment
Once you have determined what you’re allergic to, you can better avoid exposure to it. If it’s an outdoor allergen, you can try to stay inside when the pollen count is highest.
If it’s an indoor allergen, you can regulate the humidity inside your home to prevent mold from growing or purchase allergen-repellant bedding.
Avoiding allergens is important, but it is often hard to do so completely. Your doctor may recommend artificial tears to flush out your eyes or various types of antihistamines to control symptoms.
If you don’t respond to these treatments, your doctor might recommend immunotherapy treatment to inure your immune system to the allergen.
Since some over-the-counter antihistamines can provide short-term relief but make allergies worse in the long run, it’s important to visit an ocular allergy clinic to discuss treatments with an expert.
That way, you can be sure that you’re getting the right treatment for you.