The Allergy Season: Eye Allergies
Every season can be allergy season, but spring hits our immune system with an extended arsenal of allergens. In springtime there is a lot of pollen floating in the air, and along with dust mites and animal dander, it’s responsible for frequent cases of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and allergic conjunctivitis (pink eye).
What is Allergy?
Allergy is our immune system’s overreaction to essentially harmless substances called allergens. Symptoms of allergic reaction are similar to symptoms of influenza. Your body actually goes through the same process in both cases, causing respiratory, dermal, nasal and ocular response.
Allergic Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Pink eye manifests in inflammation of eye’s conjunctiva, its surface membrane. Since there are a few conditions that can potentially cause these symptoms (e.g. other types of conjunctivitis, dry eye), eye examination is highly recommended: treatment varies depending of what causes the inflammation.
Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with antihistamine medications, artificial tears, and punctal occlusion. Antihistamine pills and drops work by blocking the effect of histamine, a neuro-transmitter your body produces during an allergic reaction. Since histamine is what causes the inflammatory symptoms, blocking it may solve the problem. Artificial tears can also be helpful in reducing the inflammation. They can dilute particles trapped in tear ducts. Another treatment option is punctal occlusion (tear duct plugs). They can help prevent allergens from getting into tear ducts.
There are a few lifestyle adjustments that have proven to help with allergies. Keep in mind that minimizing your exposure to allergens is the goal, hence frequent vacuuming and dusting is recommended. Keeping windows and doors closed will prevent pollen and dust from getting into your home, but make sure it still has proper ventilation.