Eye Allergies

Allergies of the eye are on the rise. This causes itchiness, tearing, and more.

  • What is it
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Prevention
  • Recommendations

Eye Allergies

What is it

Allergies of the eye (also called ocular allergies) and related structures affect about one in five (20%) individuals in the United States and are on the rise. About 50% of people with ocular allergy have a family history of allergy. One-half of seasonal and indoor allergy sufferers also have some form of ocular allergy.

The most common type of ocular allergy is a hypersensitivity/allergy to seasonal allergens such as pollens and mold spores, and makes up about 80-90% of all cases. Other related problems including allergic rhinitis (hay fever), sinusitis, asthma and eczema may accompany ocular allergy. Persons with year round (perennial) or indoor allergies may have milder symptoms that are often less sudden and dramatic in appearance. Indoor allergens are present in the environment all year and include house dust mites, pet dander, cockroach, feather and mold spores. An individual with year round ocular allergies may also experience worsening symptoms during the allergy season due to outdoor and indoor triggers.

Eye Allergies


When an allergen comes in contact with the eye, symptoms that occur may include excess tearing, light sensitivity, redness, “grittiness” (foreign body feeling), eyelid swelling and itchiness. Generally if ocular allergy is present, the symptoms usually affect both eyes. Symptoms may be somewhat reduced if you are already taking allergy medications, such as an antihistamine or eye drop, that suppress itchiness as well as other complaints.

Eye Allergies


Your Allergist will assess your symptoms and severity and determine the best course of action to make the diagnosis.

The history (what you describe to your doctor) is a fundamental part of properly diagnosing whether allergic type ocular allergies are present. If you have immediate symptoms after exposure to outdoor allergens, for example on a high pollen day, as well as other triggers like fresh cut grass, raking the leaves, grooming a pet, dusting or vacuuming your home, you most likely have allergic conjunctivitis.

Once it is determined you have eye allergies, skin testing and/or patch testing to determine your triggers will be performed.

Eye Allergies


Oral antihistamines are commonly taken especially when there are other symptoms in addition to eye complaints such as sneezing and runny nose associated with seasonal and indoor allergies. Once or twice daily non-sedating pills and/or syrup are available for adults and children.

Prescription-strength antihistamine eye drops are among the most effective and safest therapy for relief of allergic conjunctivitis for adults and children. Some contain “anti-inflammatory” compounds that further enhance their effectiveness. Topical decongestants, like Visine, reduce redness by constricting blood vessels in the eye and are not recommended for long term usage since they may be associated with“rebound” redness with prolonged use. These may also be combined with over-the-counter (non-prescription) antihistamine eye drops to provide relief of itchiness and redness.

Corticosteroid eye drops, although highly effective to suppress ocular symptoms, can be associated with unwanted side effects even for a short term course. It is strongly recommended that its use be managed by your healthcare provider due to a higher incidence of short-term and long-term side effects, such as glaucoma (increased ocular pressure), cataracts and infection.

Allergy immunotherapy (allergy injections/shots) can be very effective for treating and preventing many of the familiar complaints of ocular allergy.

Eye Allergies


Controlling the source of the allergen is the most effective way to minimize or even eliminate eye allergies. You will want to reduce or eliminate contact with the items that irritate your eyes. For example:

  • Wash your hands, face, and hair thoroughly and frequently, and keep them away from your eyes.
  • Use air filters in your home and car; clean or change them regularly.
  • Clean and vacuum your home regularly.
  • Stay indoors when the pollen counts are high.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • Keep your house dry and free of mold.
  • Stay away from pets.
  • Immunotherapy (allergy shots) to treat the cause at its source.

Eye Allergies


Take your prescribed allergy medications before your seasonal allergy symptoms begin. An eyelid wash such as a “baby shampoo” can be used daily to remove unwanted allergens and pollutants. Eye drops may actually work better after using an eyelid rinse.

Big sunglasses may serve to block much of the pollens blown around from entering your eyes and eyelids. Keeping your allergy eye drops or artificial tears in the refrigerator may provide a soothing and cooling sensation when applied. [Always check the package label or your provider for any restrictions on placing medications in the refrigerator]. See your allergist and/or ophthalmologist or optometrist if you have symptoms that persist, to have a more in depth examination for optimal and safe treatment. Remember, your best defense is a solid and good offense, including allergy tests to identify what may be triggering your symptoms.

When your eyes are itchy or your eyelids are swollen and puffy, avoid touching or rubbing them. This may worsen your symptoms instead of bringing relief.

Indoor Allergies
Eye Allergies
Food Allergies
Children’s Allergies
Drug Allergies
Outdoor Allergies
Skin Allergies
General Allergies

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Stephanie H.

“My whole family goes to Dr. Mery.  He has been a major factor in our family’s health and well-being.  Dr. Mery is compassionate and understanding.  He is determined to help those who come to see him and truly cares for his patients.”

Susan D.

“Hill Country Allergy has been a very good experience for me these last few weeks. A great team has been providing me with a thorough job of evaluating my allergy needs and implementing a specific plan to reach my specific goal of setting my allergies under control. All staff is efficient, courteous, and very knowledgeable of my specific concerns. I am very pleased with my current service.”

Sandra B.

“The staff at Hill Country Allergy & Asthma is nothing short of amazing. They greet you with a smile and they actually remember my name; you are not just another face. They are patient and take the time to explain things even if you ask them the same questions every other time you are there. The technicians providing the shots are extremely careful and service is usually quick due to the check in system they utilize. They are well organized, with excellent customer service.”

Ditrell B.

“Whenever Julie is the one who gives me my shot, I almost look forward to getting the shot. Her sunny disposition brightens my day. I did say that it almost makes me want to get a shot!”

Bob B.

“I have been very pleased with the great care I have received from Dr. Mery, as well as his entire staff. They are all great!”

Cindy M.

“I look forward to getting my allergy shots every month. The office staff is so friendly and professional. It is a very nice and relaxed atmosphere too.”

Maria B.

“Dr. Mery saved me! I struggled for months with a skin reaction that three other doctors were unable to get under control.  It was clear from the onset that Dr. Mery is truly invested in his patients as he spent so much time with me trying to understand my situation and helped me tremendously with my condition.  Dr. Mery and his staff genuinely care for their patients!”

Krista H.

“My son saw Dr. Mery years ago for his bad allergies.  He was tested, started shots and has been on shots for a couple of years now.  We cannot begin to express our gratitude to HCAA for helping our family.  Our son is completely different kid – he can now play on sports teams and enjoy playing outside with his buddies!  THANK YOU DR. MERY!”

Sandy H.