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Red, Itchy, Watery Eyes?

Dr. Shreyas Palav from Bahrain Specialist Hospital tells us more..

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It may be Eye allergy (Allergic Conjunctivitis).. People who have allergies are often quick to seek help for symptoms like sneezing, sniffling, and nasal congestion. But allergies can affect the eyes too, causing red, itchy, burning, watery eyes and swollen eyelids. Eye allergies are caused by a misfiring of the immune system, the body’s natural defense mechanism. When you have allergies, your body reacts to things that aren’t really harmful. It releases histamine, a chemical that causes swelling and inflammation. The blood vessels in your eyes swell and your eyes get red, teary, and itchy.

Things you can be allergic to:

  • Pollen from grasses, weeds, and trees. These are the most common & seasonal.
  • Dust, pet dander, and other indoor allergens. These last year-round and are chronic (perennial).
  • Makeup, perfume, or other chemicals
  • Contact lenses – can make eyes sensitive and red.

Six types of eye allergies:

  • Seasonal – which are more common, occurs at certain times of the year—usually during early spring through summer and into autumn.
  • Perennial – occurs throughout the year.
  • Vernal / spring catarrh – usually in children during warm climates & spring / summer season.
  • Atopic – in adults with lid eczemas and infections
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis – caused by contact lens allergy
  • Contact conjunctivitis – causes due to chemicals & make up.

Symptoms of eye allergies include:

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  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Itchiness
  • Tearing or runny eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Soreness, burning, or pain
  • Sensitivity to light

Do-It-Yourself Allergy Relief

The first approach towards controlling eye allergies should be to limit your exposure to allergy triggers:

  • Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest, usually in mid-morning and early evening. Close the windows and run the air conditioner (window fans can draw in pollen and mold spores). Driving? Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner.
  • Limit your exposure to dust mites by encasing your pillows in allergen-impermeable covers. Wash bedding frequently in water that’s at least 130 F. If your mattress is more than a few years old, consider getting a new one. Old mattresses are often teeming with allergens.
  • Clean floors with a damp mop. Sweeping tends to stir up, rather than getting rid of allergens. Especially if a pet shares the house with you, consider replacing rugs and carpets, which trap and hold allergens, with hardwood, tile, or other flooring materials that are easier to clean. Go with blinds instead of curtains.
  • To stop mold from growing inside your home, keep the humidity under 50%.  That might mean using a dehumidifier, especially in a damp basement. If so, clean the dehumidifier regularly. Clean your kitchen and bathrooms with a bleach solution.
  • If your pet is causing your allergies, try to keep it outside as much as possible. At the very least, keep it out of your bedroom. Don’t let it share your bed.

Though the symptoms they cause can be annoying, they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. But red, itchy, burning, and puffy eyes can be caused also by infections and other conditions that do threaten eyesight. So, it’s smart to see your Eye Specialist to determine the best course of action.

Dr. Shreyas Palav
Bahrain Specialist Hospital

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