Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that allergies are gone – Spring is the main culprit, but seasonal allergies can flair up in every single one of the four seasons that we live in. While many think of fits of sneezing and congestion when thinking of allergies, they can have a dramatic effect on our eyes too.

Eye allergies, also known as ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis affect 20 percent of all Americans. Along with sniffling and sneezing, seasonal allergies can cause watery eyes often accompanied by itching, burning, and redness.

What Causes Allergies Anyway?

While you or someone you know may suffer from allergies, you may not realize what triggers them. There are two types of allergies: seasonal and perennial.

Seasonal allergies are more common and only happen during certain times of year—usually between early spring and into autumn. Airborne allergens such as pollen from blooming trees, weeds, and grasses are generally the culprit for these allergies.

Perennial allergies occur throughout the year and are generally caused by things such as dust mites, pet dander, and feather bedding. Other sources can trigger perennial allergies as well, including smoke, air pollution and even certain cosmetics.

Often, it’s fairly easy to identify what allergens are irritating your eyes. If you’re unsure of the source of your allergies, a doctor can help you identify what may be causing your allergic reactions.

Allergies Affect Our Eyes in a Variety of Ways

Both seasonal and perennial allergies are caused by a glitch in our immune system. Although many of the offenders listed above are generally harmless, eye irritation begins when the membrane that lines our eyelids and covers the whites of our eyes—the conjunctiva—comes in contact with something it deems a threat.

To fight the incoming threat from allergens, our immune system forms antibodies that release substances that cause our eyes to water and become red and itchy. These symptoms often come along with nasal allergies, but can also come on their own.

Take Steps to Avoid Allergens This Season

If you’re trying to beat seasonal allergies, there are a few things that you can do avoid those pesky allergens.

  • Stay indoors when pollen counts are high.
  • If you do go outdoors, remove your contacts, as they can attract and accumulate airborne allergens. Wear eyeglasses or sunglasses instead to block pollen from entering your eyes.
  • Limit exposure to dust mites by washing bedding frequently and using allergen-impermeable pillowcases.
  • Clean your floors with a damp mop so you don’t stir up allergens in the air during routine cleaning.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can make symptoms worse.

 

Sources: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/eye-allergy