Every year, approximately 50 million Americans experience allergic ailments, and eye allergies are among the most prevalent. They are also known as "ocular allergies" or allergic conjunctivitis and often affect the clear skin layer that overlays the eyes. There are two major types of allergic conjunctivitis: perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC). The former can last all year round, while the latter only occurs seasonally. At Edward Bancroft, OD, in Anchorage and Palmer Vision Clinic in Palmer, we offer care and treatment for ocular allergies.
Symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis
If you have ocular allergies, you may experience the following symptoms:
• Red, swollen, and sore eyes
• Watery eyes
• Itchy eyes
• A stinging sensation as the allergy flares up
• Sticky eyes due to mucus buildup in the corners of the eyelids
• Blurred vision
If you experience these symptoms, visit an experienced optometrist near you for a comprehensive eye exam. Some common causes of SAC ocular allergies are ragweed and grass pollens. PAC ocular allergies are often caused by indoor allergens such as animal dander, feathers, molds, and dust mites.
If you often experience allergic conjunctivitis, you should also be aware of substances like gasoline engine exhaust, smoke, and perfume. Although these substances are not allergens, they can amplify the symptoms of ocular allergies. If you suffer from chronic ocular allergies, ask your eye doctor to examine the ingredients of the cosmetics, eye drops, and eye creams you use, as some may contain allergens.
Treatments for Eye Allergies
If your optometrist diagnoses you with ocular allergies, they may prescribe oral decongestants and antihistamines, or antihistamines-decongestant eye drops. They may also suggest allergen immunotherapy if you have severe allergic conjunctivitis, such as extremely sore eyes.
The near-constant watering and itching eyes associated with ocular allergies can be highly disruptive to the day-to-day life of the sufferer. Fortunately, in most cases, these cause no long-term risk to vision. However, in rare instances related to eczema (atopic dermatitis), the resulting inflammation can potentially lead to damage to eyesight.
Preventing and Managing Ocular Allergies
You can minimize your chances of experiencing ocular allergies and even minimize the severity of your allergic reactions by taking the following actions:
• Avoid rubbing your eyes when experiencing ocular allergies, as this can lead to increased production of itch-causing chemicals.
• Avoid wearing contact lenses whenever you experience ocular allergies. You should also skip eye makeup.
• Wear eyeglasses to limit contact of your allergens with your eyes. Eyeglasses that cover most of your eyes are best.
• Regularly clean your house thoroughly to mop away mites and get rid of molds.
Do You Need an Eye Doctor in Alaska?
Visit Edward Bancroft, OD, in Anchorage or Palmer Vision Clinic in Palmer for outstanding eye care services. We will help you live without the pain and suffering of eye allergies. Call our Anchorage office today at (907) 562-2020 or our Palmer office at (907) 745-4373.