Spring’s arrival is welcomed by most New York residents after months of winter. But for people who suffer from seasonal allergies, the blooming trees, and sprouting grass and weeds can produce itchy, watery, and reddened eyes that make them miserable. Our experienced eye doctors diagnose allergies and provide allergy eye care at our locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, including Jackson Heights and Jamaica, for New York City and Long Island residents.
Eye Allergy Symptoms
Eye allergies, called allergic conjunctivitis, occur when eyes react to allergens by producing a substance called histamine. Histamine causes the eyelids and the clear tissue covering the white part of your eye (conjunctiva) to become red, swollen, and itchy. Some people experience a burning sensation and watery eyes. Other symptoms can include blurred vision and light sensitivity. The same allergens may also trigger nasal allergies and a skin condition called eczema.
Eye Allergy Treatments
The first step in creating a treatment plan for eye allergies is to have a doctor diagnose the specific causes of the allergies. Pollens produced by grass, trees, and weeds are the worst offenders and avoiding allergic reactions involves monitoring the pollen count in your area. Staying indoors with the windows closed and the air conditioner on when the pollen count is high can help reduce the severity of eye allergies. If you need to go out, wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
Avoiding allergens, however, is often not enough to combat allergies. In those cases, we can treat allergies with eye drops and medicine. Treatment options include:
- Artificial tears: These drops rinse away allergens and keep eyes moist.
- Decongestants: These are drops that shrink the eyes’ blood vessels, reducing redness.
- Antihistamines: By preventing the chemical reaction created when histamines attach to cells that cause allergic responses, antihistamines relieve symptoms such as watery, red, and itchy eyes. These can be used as eye drops or taken orally.
- Mast-cell stabilizers: These block the release of chemicals produced by the body that makes your eyes itchy and watery, but take longer to work so you should schedule an appointment before the symptoms emerge.
- Corticosteroids: These eye drops can provide relief from acute eye allergy symptoms, but long-term use has been linked to elevated eye pressure, glaucoma, and cataracts.
- Immunotherapy shots: We may recommend immunotherapy shots for patients who don’t respond well to other treatment paths. Over time, these shots can help patients build immunity to allergens.
Our eye doctors work with patients to develop treatment plans that work most effectively for each individual.
Helping People Is What We Do
Ways to Ease Eye Allergy Symptoms
You can reduce the severity of symptoms caused by eye allergies by following a few tips we recommend. The first step is to be proactive and schedule an appointment with one of our eye doctors before allergy season begins. We can help you avoid allergens before you start experiencing symptoms.
Other tips include:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes when they itch. Rubbing your eyes releases more histamine, worsening makes your allergy symptoms.
- Use plenty of artificial tears recommended by our eye doctors to wash airborne allergens from your eyes.
- Reduce your contact lens wear or switch to daily disposable lenses to reduce the buildup of allergens on your lenses.
- Take showers at bedtime and gently clean your eyelids to remove any pollen that could cause irritation while you sleep.
- Think about purchasing an air purifier for your home and purchase an allergen-trapping filter for your heating/cooling system.
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