Allergies and Your Eyes: What You Need to Know from a Board-Certified Allergist

Changing seasons can be beautiful, but it isn't always the easiest for our eyes - especially if you struggle with seasonal allergies. 

If you experience itching, burning, or watery eyes at the start of spring, summer, or fall, you may wonder how to protect your eye health and alleviate these annoying symptoms. 

Look no further; we sought the expertise of Dr. Jennifer Collins, a board-certified Allergist and Medical Director at Gramercy Allergy & Asthma, who answered our top questions about allergies and eye health. 

Before you stop and smell the roses, here's what you need to know! 

To best treat your eye allergies, it's crucial to understand what seasonal allergies are and why they affect your eyes. Dr. Collins revealed that allergies are triggered by immune reactions to foreign substances in your environment. These can be anything from dust mites, molds, or animals to seasonal-specific pollen that enters through the eyes, nose, or throat to cause a reaction. Typical symptoms of allergies include itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion. 

What does an allergist use to clear up eye-related allergies? 

Dr. Collins recommends determining your specific allergies through testing. For example, if your test results show an allergy to pollen, then keeping windows shut, rinsing off after being outside, and avoiding time with nature during peak pollen times can be helpful.

Your doctor may prescribe medications like antihistamines or topical corticosteroids for more persistent allergies. However, there are also helpful over-the-counter ingredients like hypochlorous acid that can reduce itching and provide long-lasting comfort. (There's a reason hypochlorous acid is the star ingredient of our bestselling Easy on the Eyes Daily Hygiene Facial Spray!) 

According to Dr. Collins, "Hypochlorous acid rinses nasally are shown to produce anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties similar to rinsing with buffered saline rinses. Cleaning the eyes of the allergies is often helpful in removing the trigger of the allergic reaction."

If changes in your routine and over-the-counter medications don't help, your allergist may administer a shot to bring relief. 

Remember, when experiencing any eye discomfort, it's always best to consult your eye doctor, who can help identify the cause and refer you to an allergy specialist if needed. Allergists and eye doctors often work together to develop a proper treatment plan that's right for you. 

So how do cosmetics play a role in allergic reactions?

Dr. Collins noted that people who are "allergic" often have sensitive eyes and skin that require special attention, 

"Certain ingredients in makeup and personal care products are irritating and can even sensitize the person to the ingredient. If the eyes are irritated, then you are more likely to rub your eyes, often introducing allergens directly into the eye." 

That's why it's important to be aware of the ingredients in your personal care products, especially those used near the delicate eye area. 

Ingredients like chamomile, honey, and beeswax can be especially irritating. Since chamomile and ragweed belong to the same family of plants - these plants look alike to the immune system and trigger a similar reaction.

Honey and beeswax affect your body in a slightly different way. You can be allergic to the pollen bees consume to produce beeswax, the beeswax itself, or its natural fragrance. Honey is generally less problematic, but it's always best to double-check with your allergist and avoid these ingredients if you're extremely sensitive. 

We hope you better understand how allergies can affect your eyes and, most importantly, know there are solutions to keep your eyes feeling and looking beautiful. 

If you're looking for a place to start, our complete collection of eye-safe essentials uses only the safest ingredients to soothe, protect, and hydrate sensitive eyes. Plus, each and every product is developed and tested by a board-certified ophthalmologist so you can try them with confidence. 

Cheers to healthy, happy eyes all year long!

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