My Eyes Are Itchy, And They Are Painful

Allergies are among the most disruptive conditions and, in severe cases, can be debilitating. Ocular allergy consistently ranks high as a disrupter in the quality of life surveys, likely because the eyes are an extremely sensitive part of the body. Not only will the eyes be uncomfortable and itchy, but their cosmetic appearance may be less than desirable during a full blown allergic response (think red, puffy, watery eyes!)

So why are we talking about allergies when we usually talk about dry eye? Because they can coexist! When this occurs, symptoms can often be worse and even more difficult for the patient and clinician to understand. It’s so important that you realize why these reactions occur and learn what you can do to lessen the effects.

By definition, an allergy is an atypical, hypersensitive reaction to substances within a person’s normal environment. These substances are often commonplace, and the body has merely developed an immune response to these elements, which may be anything from pollen and dust to food and animal dander. You may even have a sensitivity to elements within new laundry detergents or facial lotions. Unfortunately, the possibilities are endless.

Allergies can take on many forms, and they are different for everyone. Seasonal allergies are quite possibly the most well known. This form is most often associated with plant pollens and typically will affect you during the spring. Perennial allergies, on the other hand, are noticed year-round. These allergens are typically due to indoor elements such as animal dander and insect proteins.

You may notice during these times that your eyes tear more often and, in fact, your tears play a very important role in both allergic conditions and dry eye. When the surface of your eye detects an allergen or becomes unstable due to dryness, reflex tearing occurs and your eyes begin to water. This reflex tearing occurs because the eye is calling for tears to flush out the allergens and protect the ocular surface. Although annoying, these tears can be helpful in flushing away allergic material and reducing the contact time with your eye, minimizing the allergic response. However, the unstable surface of the eye must still be treated to prevent the condition in the first place.

The first step with allergies is to attempt to figure out what you’re allergic to and remove it from your environment. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. If that’s not entirely possible, ocular allergy medications are the best way to effectively block allergic reactions and allow for a stable surface. The current eye drops available are most often antihistamines and mast-cell stabilizers that provide quick relief. Good news!

So if any of the above resonates with you and you have allergies, to begin with, allergy eye drops may be something to consider. As always, it is best to speak with your eye doctor about this as well. Do you ever experience itchy, watery, red eyes? What treatments have you tried? Let us know!


One Love,

Dr. Jenna Zigler

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Jenna Zigler on July 12 2018 at 04:15PM

Hey Lorraine – Check out our blog on watery eyes! I think it will help a lot!

Epiphora | What Causes Watery Eyes?

Lorraine Scotto on July 12 2018 at 04:13PM

I bought the mask the Jojoba organic oil, I have there tears drops, omega3 fish oil(1200mg) that I take. I take your lid & lash cleanser, and my eyes leak fluid, please help I can no longer stand this

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