Eye allergy ( allergic conjunctivitis) is a common condition resulting from exposure to a substance or environmental irritant (allergen). The eyelids and conjunctiva (the thin filmy covering of the white part of the eye) become itchy, red, and swollen. Although this condition has features that mimic bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, eye allergies cannot be transferred from person to person. Many people who suffer from eye allergies also have nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and post-nasal drip when exposed to an allergen.
Eye allergies can be related to seasonal allergies, like pollen, grass, trees, and ragweed. They can also be due to dust mites, molds, and pet dander. Some allergies are related to cosmetics, medications or preservatives in eye drops.
Your doctor will examine your eyes and discuss your medical history to determine if you have eye allergies. If you have eye allergies, it is important to avoid the substance causing the problem. If necessary, your doctor may recommend that you see an allergist to determine the specific substances you should avoid.
To minimize pollen exposure, avoid going outside when pollen counts are high. Wear glasses or sunglasses when you go outside to limit your eye exposure. Keep your windows closed while inside and in your car.
For dust mites, you can use special allergen-reducing bedding covers. Wash your bedding often in hot water. Avoid using dry brooms to clean your floors—instead, use mops or wet cloths that trap allergens.
To decrease exposure to mold, aim to keep the humidity level in your house low. This will discourage mold growth. Also, consider dehumidifiers in areas that are particularly humid, such as basements.
If pet dander is a problem for you, keep your pets outside as much as possible. Most importantly, keep pets out of your bedroom so you have an allergen-free sleeping space. Always wash your hands after touching a pet.
These drops are available without a prescription and can help eye allergy symptoms by temporarily washing out allergens and soothing the surface of the eye.
Decongestants are also available over the counter. They decrease the redness from eye allergies, but do not improve other symptoms. These drops should be used sparingly, as long term use can cause more irritation.
Oral antihistamines may have a minimal effect on eye allergies, but are most useful for nasal symptoms.
These can come in a prescription or other the counter formulations and have a dual mechanism for fighting allergy symptoms. They are intended to relieve redness, itching, burning, and watering associated with eye allergies.
These drops are typically used only in more severe or chronic types of allergic conjunctivitis. They help reduce redness, itching, burning, and watering associated with eye allergies.
If the above measures do not effectively control allergy symptoms, immunotherapy may be an option.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a bleed that occurs on the surface of the eye. The bleed actually occurs in the conjunctiva, which is a thin clear layer of tissue and blood vessels lying over the sclera, the white area of the eye. Subconjunctival hemorrhages can look very concerning and serious; however, most of these hemorrhages are of minimal concern to eye health and resolve quickly.
Subconjunctival hemorrhages are most frequently caused by heavy coughing, vomiting, or straining, high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, injury, and the use of blood thinners such as aspirin, clopidogrel, and warfarin. Rarely, a subconjunctival hemorrhage can be caused by a mass within the orbit, the bony area surrounding the eye. Sometimes no obvious cause can be determined.
In most cases where a bleed has occurred for the first time, artificial tear drops are recommended to help with any irritation, and patients are advised that the bleed will typically resolve in 2-3 weeks. Patients may be asked to have their blood pressure checked if they are not certain of their blood pressure readings. If the bleed is caused by a trauma, a detailed exam is performed to rule out any serious injury to the eye. In the case of bleeds caused by trauma, patients may need follow up visits for monitoring. Otherwise, patients are asked to return if the bleed does not resolve, or if there is any recurrence. In instances of recurrences, a work up may be initiated to look for any bleeding disorders or orbital or conjunctival masses that may be causing the hemorrhages.