Physicians use the term “ocular allergy” to describe an allergic reaction which affects the eye. In many people, these allergies occur alongside asthmatic symptoms and allergic rhinitis. Ocular allergies are becoming increasingly prevalent but often go undiagnosed. Suffers don’t always seek the appropriate ocular allergy treatment.
Ocular allergies can not only be uncomfortable but also interfere with a person’s ability to carry out their day-to-day activities. They can also impair vision which can be distressing and disruptive to a person’s well-being and quality of life. Luckily, in most cases, ocular allergies don’t represent a long-term negative impact on our ocular health.
What Causes Ocular Allergies?
Ocular allergies are a result of the body’s immune response. When the body mistakes an otherwise harmless substance for an allergen, the immune system overreacts. Histamines and other chemicals released by this reaction cause allergy symptoms.
An allergic reaction in the eyes most often causes inflammation of the mucous membrane – known as the conjunctiva – leading to watering, itching, light sensitivity, swelling, burning, and redness. It can be very uncomfortable, as the eyes become sore and fatigued.
For many ocular allergy sufferers, there is a marked seasonality to their symptoms, so spring and summer create feelings of dread. Classic hay fever or seasonal rhinitis bring that familiar discomfort and puffy eyes as pollen fills the air every year.
Ocular allergies can occur whenever sufferers come into close contact with any allergens that they’re sensitive to. Other common allergens include
pet dander, dust mites, smoke, perfumes, mold spores, and even some foods.
Symptoms usually appear very quickly after exposure to an allergen.
Managing Ocular Allergies
The best way to manage ocular allergies is to avoid exposure to allergens. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t possible in many cases. Specific medications can help to keep the symptoms and discomfort under control.
There are many over-the-counter options available which are suitable for the treatment of general ocular allergies. The most commonly used treatments are eye drops and oral antihistamines. Sufferers can treat 80–90% of ocular allergies this way.
In some cases, sufferers may require further treatment. There are also other eye conditions which have similar symptoms to eye allergies, some of which can be potentially threatening to the sufferer’s vision.
Therefore, it is crucial to visit an eye doctor to get a proper diagnosis for your ocular allergy symptoms and advice on the best ocular allergy treatment.