Do your eyes ever water, itch, hurt, or become red or swollen? You may be experiencing allergic conjunctivitis commonly known as an eye allergy. Unlike other kinds of conjunctivitis, eye allergies do not spread from person to person.

The most common causes of eye allergies are seasonal allergies to pollen and mold spores. Indoor allergens, such as dust mites and pet dander, can also cause eye allergies year-round.Women walking over bridge

In allergic conjunctivitis, symptoms are usually present in both eyes. Symptoms include:
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchiness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness
  • Grittiness
  • Eyelid swelling
To minimize your exposure to allergens:
  • Keep your windows closed when the pollen count is high and use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
  • Try to stay indoors when the pollen or mold counts are high. 
  • Keep your home dust-free.
  • Use an indoor air purifier.
  • Sunglasses can also help reduce the amount of allergen that lands in the eyes.
  • Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves.
  • Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, dyes, and perfumes.
  • To ease your symptoms, avoid rubbing your eyes. Applying a cool compress to your eyes can also help reduce inflammation and itching. 

Over-the-counter oral antihistamine pills and eye drops are often used for the short-term treatment of eye allergy symptoms. However, prolonged use of some eye drops may actually make your symptoms worse.

Woman having eye examTry nonprescription artificial tears, which may help relieve itching and burning. Do not use the same bottle of drops in the other eye if it is not affected.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact The Eye Institute to make an appointment with an eye doctor, who will check to see if you have an eye infection or allergic conjunctivitis.