Allergies are a fact of life for many people. They can cause itchy, watery eyes and make it difficult to focus on daily tasks. But why do allergies happen? What can they do to your eyes? And how can you take care of your eyes during allergy season? Let’s take a closer look.
Allergies occur when the body mistakes a harmless substance, such as pollen, pet dander, or dust, for an invader. This causes the immune system to overreact and release chemicals like histamine into the bloodstream. These chemicals trigger symptoms like sneezing, itching, and watery eyes.
The main symptom of eye allergies is itching. This can be very uncomfortable and make it difficult to focus on tasks. Other symptoms include redness in the whites of the eye, swelling around the eyelids, tearing or discharge from the eye, and a feeling of grittiness or burning in the eye.
Itching is caused by histamines that are released during an allergic reaction. These histamines activate skin receptors that make you feel itchy or inflamed. In addition, allergens like pollen can also irritate the surface of your eyes directly, which can worsen itching sensations.
We need to discuss the 3 layers of tear film – mucous close to the eye, the water or aqueous layer, and the oil or lipid layer on the surface. Dry eye symptoms can occur if one of these layers is off balance. Not enough water or not enough of the oily layer is usually the problem. Oil is releasing each time you blink. Sometimes if focusing too long on screens, you don’t blink as often as needed. Sometimes the meibomian glands don’t release enough or any oil when you blink. These glands are the base of our lashes, and with each blink, oil is released and covers the watery layer of the tear film to keep it from evaporating too quickly. Ask your doctor about IPL and Lipiflow, which are often great solutions for treating dry eye.
There are several steps you can take to help keep your eyes comfortable during allergy season:
Allergies are uncomfortable, but they don’t have to ruin allergy season for you! Understanding why allergies happen and what they do to your eyes is important for managing them effectively so you can enjoy this time of year without worrying about irritating symptoms affecting your vision comfort. Taking simple steps such as wearing sunglasses outdoors, avoiding rubbing your eyes, using cold compresses or antihistamine drops, and consulting with an optometrist if needed will go a long way toward keeping your eyes healthy during allergy season!
For all your eye care needs and questions, contact Key-Whitman Eye Center at (214) 220-3937!