Table of Contents

Eye allergy.

You have an allergic reaction when your body overreacts to substances (allergens), which ordinarily are harmless. The body of an allergic person mistakes these harmless substances for dangerous “foreign invaders”. It tries too hard to destroy them by releasing defense chemicals (histamine, etc). The chemicals cause itching, redness, burning, tearing and watery eye discharge (allergic conjunctivitis). The most common allergens are pollen, dust and animal dander.

I think I may be allergic to my contact lenses.

Contact lens material does not cause allergic reactions. However, after prolonged use, contact lenses become coated by mucus-like material. Wearers may develop allergy to the mucus-like material. That is one reason why you should keep your lenses scrupulously clean. Frequent cleaning will reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions. Still, cleaning does not remove all the coating and development of allergy remains a possibility. In such a case, you may need to change to disposable lenses.

How can I minimize the frequency of allergic attacks?

To reduce your exposure to allergens:

  •  Wash your hands, face and hair frequently to rid them of allergens.
  • Use air filters indoors and vacuum regularly.
  • Avoid outdoors when pollen count is high.
  • Close windows and doors to keep allergens out.
  • Wash bedding regularly.
  • Use allergen barriers on pillows and mattresses (barrier pillowcases and mattress cases)

How can I reduce severity of allergic eye irritation?

  •  Apply cool compresses to the eyelids for 15 minutes several times a day, when symptoms are at its worst.
  • Use non-prescription artificial tears (GenTeal, Refresh, Systane, Theratears etc.) several times a day to wash out allergens (may be used hourly). Preservative-free artificial tears may be necessary in some cases. We recommend using a preservative free formula if you use artificial tears more than 4 times a day)
  • Do not rub your eyes; it may introduce more allergen into the eye.
  • Non-prescription antihistamine and decongestants (Pataday, Zaditor, Alaway etc) may be used for relief of symptoms. If they do not provide relief make an appointment to be evaluated. Over the counter allergy medications should not be used by patients with narrow angle glaucoma.
  • Use prescribed medication.
Remember that eye irritation is not always allergic. It may also be caused by infection, dry eyes and many other conditions. If you have prolonged discomfort, you should make an appointment to be seen.