Eye Allergies, Explained

Did you know that a majority of allergy symptoms affect the eyes? Here’s what you need to know.

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It's that time again. Time to bring out the Kleenex and prepare for runny, itchy, sneezy, wheezy season. Yep. The seasons are changing and allergies are in full swing. Allergies affect many people, and a majority of allergy symptoms affect the eyes. Eye allergies can cause severe discomfort and make everyday activities difficult.

When you have an allergic reaction, the eyes may be responding to something that is not actually harmful. For example, dust is harmless to most people, but for those who commonly have allergic reactions, the eyes can produce tears or mucus as a protective measure.

Allergies that continue on for a while can also trigger other conditions like conjunctivitis (pink eye) and asthma. If you have a family history of eye allergies, you are also more likely to suffer from them.

Symptoms of Eye Allergies

These signs indicate you may be suffering from eye allergies:

  • Swollen, red or itchy eyes

  • Sneezing or coughing

  • Runny nose

  • Itchy nose, mouth or throat

  • Headache from sinus congestion

  • Fatigue or lack of sleep

Causes of Eye Allergies

Airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, pet dander and mold can come into contact with your eyes and nose on a daily basis. Additionally, medications, cosmetics or topical creams can cause adverse reactions and eye allergies. However, food allergies or reactions caused by insect stings do not usually affect the eyes like airborne allergens do.

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General Treatment for Eye Allergies


The most common treatment is simply to avoid the irritants or allergens that cause you to experience allergic reactions. With itchy eyes, it is important to keep your home extra clean, dust-free, and free of pet hair. Keeping pets off the furniture in your home also helps reduce pet dander.


If you aren't exactly sure what is causing your eye allergies or simply avoiding irritants does not work, you will probably need medication to remedy your eye allergies. There are over-the-counter and prescription options for allergy relief. Over-the-counter medications are inexpensive and accessible.

If you need something stronger, though, you will want to check into prescription medication to treat your eye allergies. Remember that if you have additional symptoms or your symptoms get severe, you should visit your eye doctor to make sure you aren't suffering from something more serious. Your eye doctor can determine what will work best based on your specific symptoms and allergies.

Eye allergies can also sometimes be lessened with eye drops with active ingredients such as antihistamines and decongestants. For instance, antihistamines help can help relieve watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose that many people experience with eye allergies. Also, decongestants can help make breathing easier by shrinking swollen nasal passages.

If you are having issues with eye allergies, make an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss the course of treatment that is best for you.