According to the National Institute of Health, millions of Americans experience allergy symptoms that often cause itchy eyes. The good news is that the cause of these symptoms are often avoidable or easily treated by over-the-counter or prescription medication. Here’s the basic idea of what happens during an allergic reaction: The part of the eye usually affected is called the conjunctiva, a clear layer of skin overlying the eyes. Irritation to this part of the eye can cause allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva that can cause itching), which can be either seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC), in which a person experiences symptoms for a short period of time, or perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) in which a person experiences reactions throughout the year.
Common causes of eye allergies are: pollen, grass, weeds, dust, and pet dander. But don’t worry, you don’t have to get rid of your pet or stay indoors all the time. Most eye allergies can be treated by medications such as eye drops and oral antihistamines for mild cases. If the condition is more serious, then a doctor can prescribe special eye drops that reduce itchy eyes and other allergy symptoms.
Sometimes your body makes tears at a faster rate than they can be evaporated or drained, this can lead to watery eyes or excess tearing. Usually, there’s no cause for worry. According to Mayo Clinic.com, having watery eyes is a natural response to emotions or to cold, windy weather and is often not a sign of a serious health issue. Irritation caused by allergies, minor infections, or even dry eyes can also cause excess tearing. In these cases, the tears usually clear up when the underlying issue is treated.
Overproduction of tears is not always the cause of watery eyes. The most common cause of watery eyes in children is a blocked or incompletely opened tear duct. Also, older adults can experience a relaxation of muscles that keep the inner part of the eyelid flat against the eye. When these issues occur, tears that normally drain into the nose from openings in the inner part of the eyelids can’t reach these openings and run over the eyelid. These conditions are usually not painful, but may be inconvenient. In these circumstances, a simple outpatient surgery is all that is needed to relieve the symptoms. If the excess tears don’t clear up right away or cause any difficulty with vision, please contact Dr. Feinerman as soon as possible.
PubMed, a database belonging to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, describes “Pink eye” as a term commonly used to describe redness produced by an inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelids (conjunctivitis). Although it sounds complicated, it’s a minor eye disease that many people experience and overcome without much issue. Conjunctivitis occurs when the eye is exposed to bacteria or other irritants, causing tears to be produced in an effort to wash away the foreign objects. Symptoms of conjunctivitis can include: blurred vision, overnight formation of crust, increased tearing, itching of the eye, redness, and sometimes even light sensitivity.
Treatment of conjunctivitis can depend on the cause, but it’s usually a quick fix once the source of irritation is found. For example, an allergy-related case can be resolved when the allergen is removed or the allergic reaction is treated. Bacterial infections can be cured with antibiotic medication, usually in the form of eye drops. Pink eye often disappears on its own, but many doctors recommend mild antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection.