The surest sign of eye allergies is red, swollen, teary eyes. A cold compress will help them to feel better temporarily, but for long-term relief it’s necessary to understand what triggers the symptoms and treat it directly.

Eye allergies may occur alone or in conjunction with nasal and/or skin allergic reactions. Symptoms of eye allergies include:

  • Redness in the white of the eye
  • Redness and/or swelling in the eyelid
  • Itching, burning sensation
  • Uncontrollable watering
  • Sensitivity to light

Allergies occur when the cells in your eye (or nose, or throat) are exposed to the offending allergen, pollen, for example. The cells release histamine and other chemicals which causes irritation.

If you’re experiencing severe eye allergies, remove your contact lenses and avoid eye makeup. Also avoid rubbing your eyes, as that may cause cells to release more of the chemical irritants. Wash your hands often and, if necessary, take proactive measures to limit the amount of allergens you’re exposed to.

Talk to your doctor about medications that may help to reduce eye allergy symptoms or artificial tears that can help to wash allergens out of your eyes. Most allergy eyedrops contain the same chemicals used in nasal allergy sprays, like antihistamine. Don’t use nasal sprays in your eyes, though. Oral antihistamines may help with your eye allergies, or it could actually dry out your eyes further and worsen symptoms. Talk to your doctor before taking decongestants.

For people with severe allergies, shot treatments (immunotherapy) may help to reduce symptoms long-term. You’ll probably need to speak with a specialist to see if you’re a candidate for immunotherapy. Start by asking your primary physician.

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