Each year, millions of Americans suffer from allergies and will quickly address sneezing and headaches, but will often ignore the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis — eye allergies. In today’s post, we’ll explore some of the effects of allergies on your eyes and what you can do to support optimal eye health.
Allergic conjunctivitis is a common condition that results in red, itchy, watery eyes. The eyes can be affected by the same irritants that cause sneezing and a runny nose in seasonal allergy sufferers. Eye allergies can occur with or without other allergic symptoms. For most allergy sufferers, in addition to having symptoms of sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose, most people also experience itchy eyes, watery eyes, red eyes, and swollen eyelids. Common culprits of allergic conjunctivitis include pollen, dust, animal dander, and mold.
Causes of Allergic Conjunctivitis
Like all allergies, eye allergies occur when your body’s immune system overreacts to a stimulus. Your immune system creates antibodies that cause your eyes to release histamine and other substances. These substances cause itchy, watery eyes and swelling.
Types of Allergic Conjunctivitis
There are two types of allergic conjunctivitis – seasonal and perennial. Seasonal allergies, as the name implies, happen at specific times of the year — typically, early spring through summer and into autumn. Irritants for seasonal allergens are often pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, and mold spores. Perennial allergies occur year-round. Common culprits include dust mites, feathers, perfume, smoke, air pollutants, and animal dander. Contact allergens and medications can also cause allergic reactions any time of the year. For most allergy sufferers, allergic conjunctivitis is seasonal and long-term consequences are rare.
Potential Long-Term Effects
Giant papillary conjunctivitis is a potential long-term consequence of eye allergies, although it is not common. In this condition, the cornea becomes inflamed in a condition known as keratitis. This can cause ulcers to form on the cornea which increases the risk of scarring and the possibility of permanent vision loss.
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis is a more serious eye allergy and occurs year-round, although symptoms may worsen seasonally. It is more common in boys and young men and nearly 75 percent of patients who have vernal keratoconjunctivitis also have eczema or asthma.
Atopic keratoconjunctivitis is a type of eye allergy that primarily affects older people, mostly men with a history of allergic dermatitis. Symptoms may occur year-round and are similar to those of vernal keratoconjunctivitis.
Prevention and Treatment
The best way to avoid complications of allergies on eye health is to identify what you are allergic to and avoid triggers. To help reduce symptoms, you can use eye supplements that optimize eye health before allergies hit. For the relief of occasional dry eyes that results in dry, itchy eyes, try Tear Support vitamins that help support eye hydration. Optimal eye hydration can help flush out allergens and relieve itching.
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