The body reacts to certain allergens that it feels are harmful. For example, while dust may not affect you, it may trigger an allergic response in someone else. This response may be in the form of itchy, red or watery eyes. Sometimes stronger reactions to allergies – such as swollen, red eyelids – can occur.
Most eyes react to common airborne allergens, such as dust, smog, pet dander or pollen to name a few. Sometimes makeup or antibiotic eye drops may cause an allergic reaction. It is important to note that dry eyes can exacerbate allergies. The eye normally increases its production of tears in order to wash away irritants. Ironically enough, excessive tearing is a major symptom of dry eye. If there are not enough tears to wash away the allergens, the eye will experience even more irritation. Lubricating drops are often recommended to add extra moisture. However, if moisture drops are not sufficient, Dr. Benjamin may suggest punctal occlusion increase the amount of tears that remain in the eye.
To alleviate dry eye symptoms associated with allergies, it’s best to avoid triggers. Failing that, eye drops such as Optivar or Patanol can help alleviate itching and redness. Prescription dry eye therapy, such as Restasis, can also improve the condition. Antihistamines, such as Claritin or Benadryl are effective over-the-counter options. However, overuse of decongestants can create dependence so they should be used sparingly.