Allergies

Image of a young girl blowing her nose.

Caused by the same irritants as hay fever, runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, eye allergies commonly affect those who suffer from other allergy symptoms. Not only do eye allergies cause discomfort, but they can also interfere with daily activities.

Eye Allergy Causes

Medically referred to as allergic conjunctivitis, individuals who are predisposed to allergic reaction experience eye allergies when they come into contact with allergens (substances which prove harmless to others, like pollen, mold, dust, and pet dander). In addition to these allergens, some eye allergy sufferers also experience reactions to perfumes, smoke, cosmetics, insect bites/stings, foods, and the preservatives found in eye drops.

When an allergy sufferer's eyes come into contact with an allergen, his or her immune system reacts, and cells known as mast cells release histamine to try to combat the allergen. Histamine causes the symptoms associated with eye allergies.

Eye Allergy Symptoms

When mast cells in the eyes release histamine to fight off allergens, the eye lids, conjunctiva (membrane covering the underside of the eyelid), and sclera (white of the eye) become irritated. This leads to swelling, redness, watering, burning, and itching. Severe eye allergies can also cause light sensitivity. Though it appears similar, unlike pink eye (bacterial or viral conjunctivitis), allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.

Who Is at Risk?

Eye allergies affect up to 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. While anyone can be born with or develop allergies, people whose parents suffer from allergies are more likely to have allergies.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suffer from eye allergy symptoms, an eye care professional can provide you with a proper diagnosis, ruling out bacterial or viral conjunctivitis. Often over the counter eye drops formulated for allergy relief are often sufficient treatment. If they do not provide enough relief, an eye care professional can recommend or prescribe other methods of treatment such as decongestants, oral antihistamines, eye drops with antihistamine and mast stabilizer, corticosteroids, or immune therapy shots.

Eye Allergy Prevention

The best way to prevent eye allergies is to avoid eye allergens. Keep windows closed and stay indoors as much as possible during allergy season, replace air conditioning filters with high quality filters that trap allergens, reduce exposure to animals, wash bedding in hot water to remove allergens, and reduce humidity in the home to prevent mold growth.

Contact

Eye Associates
Harleysville Eye Associates
Phone: 215-256-6735, Fax: 215-256-9931
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Chadds Ford Eye Associates
Phone: 610-558-2760, Fax: 610-361-2031
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Lansdale Eye Associates
Phone: 215-997-4535, Fax: 215-997-4537
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Testimonials

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  • "Always a pleasure to have my exam at Harleysville Eye Assoc. Dr. Forrest is very patient and answers any questions I have. The Associates help me pick out my new frames and address any insurance issues that may arise."
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  • "I can't remember when I first started seeing Dr. Forrest, but have no desire to change. He cares about his patients eye health and takes the time to get things right. His support staff is to be commended as well from testing to selecting and fitting frames and lenses."
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  • "Our family has always had a great experience at Chadds Ford Eye Associates. They go out of their way to be helpful. Our daughter realized that she did not have enough contact lens to go to a Florida trip and they were able to get us some samples to get her through the trip. They work hard to ensure that your prescription is right and if not will take the time make adjustments."
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  • "Dr. Paul Forrest has taken good care of my eyes for years. His staff have always been friendly and helpful."
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  • "Having been going to Harleysville Eye Associates for years and Dr White and his staff have always been very highly skilled and proficient."
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