Eye allergies affect many people. In some cases the ailment can occur seasonally as a result of factors that produce airborne allergens, like pollen or molds, in the spring, summer, and fall. In other cases eye allergies may be a persistent condition triggered by continuous exposure to environmental factors or products that cause irritation.

List of Common Allergens:

  • Smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Mold
  • Cosmetics
  • Perfumes
  • Pollen from grass, trees and ragweed
  • Animal skin, hair, and secretions like saliva
  • Certain skin medications

Whether you suffer from seasonal or persistent eye allergies, the Howerton Eye can help. Continue reading below for a better understanding of eye allergies, allergic conjunctivitis, and what you can do to alleviate both.

Understanding Eye Allergies

A clear, thin membrane known as the conjunctiva covers your eyeball. If the conjunctiva becomes irritated by an allergen then your eye may itch, hurt, water, become swollen, or turn red. If an allergic reaction causes irritation, it is called allergic conjunctivitis or an ocular allergy.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic Conjunctivitis is a type of eye inflammation that occurs as a reaction to allergens. It is a common condition that results from your body’s attempts to defend itself against perceived harm by releasing a histamine. The condition can occur alone or along with nasal allergy symptoms. There are two types of allergic conjunctivitis:

  • Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis: a short-term condition that usually occurs during allergy season, which causes your eyelids to swell, itch, and burn, and watery nose.
  • Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis: a less common, milder condition that may occur year-round and results from exposure to allergens like animal dander or dust. This type of allergic conjunctivitis causes eye burning and itching, as well as light sensitivity.

Allergic conjunctivitis rarely affects eyesight. It is not contagious and you can avoid contracting the condition by identifying and avoiding your allergens. For example, if you are allergic to mold or pollen, remain indoors as much as possible when mold and pollen levels are high. You can also keep your doors and windows closed and use the air conditioner during the summer as a substitute.


Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” occurs as a result of a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. Unlike allergic conjunctivitis, conjunctivitis is contagious because it is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Symptoms that manifest may include: itchy eyes, burning eyes, swollen eyes, and red eyes.

Dealing with Symptoms

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, placing a cool washcloth over the affected eye and taking antihistamine pills can bring relief. Eye drops can also help alleviate symptoms. Drops may be purchased over-the-counter, or prescribed by your eye doctor.

Eye Drop Application:

  • Always wash your hands before applying eye drops
  • Open the bottle (being careful that its tip doesn’t touch anything)
  • Pull your lower eyelid down with your finger and look up or into a mirror
  • Squeeze one drop into the bottom lid
  • Try not to touch your eyelid with the tip of the bottle
  • Gently close your eye to allow the medication to absorb

Initially most eye drops can cause stinging or burning, but that typically subsides in a few moments. Speak with your eye doctor about what eye drops might be right for you, and to discuss all your treatment options.

Contact Your Eye Doctor Today

If you suffer from eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, consult with an eye doctor at the Howerton Eye. Many different types of treatment are available by prescription to relieve your eye pain, itching, tearing, or swelling. Schedule an appointment via our online form or contact us directly to get started.