Eye Doctors in Virginia Beach, Norfolk & Chesapeake

Pollen season and eye allergies

By Gontarek Eye Care – 4/1/2022

It’s pollen season and our eye doctors would like to update you on Ocular Allergies, aka, eye allergies.

Eye allergy occurs when something you are allergic to irritates the conjunctiva. This is the delicate membrane covering the eye and the inside of the eyelid.

Like all allergies, allergic conjunctivitis starts when the immune system identifies an otherwise harmless substance as an allergen. This causes your immune system to overreact and produce antibodies called Immunoglobulin (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals which cause an allergic reaction. In this case, allergic reactions include eyes that water, itch, hurt or become red or swollen.

The most common causes of allergic conjunctivitis are seasonal allergens such as pollen and mold spores.  People in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) normally notice their symptoms worsen when they go outdoors on days with high pollen counts.

Indoor allergens such as dust mites and pet dander can also cause eye allergies year-round. If you suffer from this type of allergy, you may notice your symptoms worsen during certain activities such as cleaning your house or grooming a pet.

Eye allergy symptoms can be very annoying, but they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness, say our eye doctors.

Eye Allergy Symptoms & Diagnosis

If your symptoms are related to an eye allergy, chances are you will have problems in both eyes.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Itchiness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness
  • Grittiness
  • Eyelid swelling

These symptoms can occur alone or along with allergic rhinitis nasal symptoms. They typically appear shortly after exposure to the allergen.

Symptoms resulting from seasonal outdoor allergens tend to be worse than if your symptoms are due to indoor allergens such as dust mites or pet dander.

Symptoms may be reduced if you are taking allergy medications such as antihistamines, which suppress the allergic reaction.

The first step toward relief from annoying eye allergy symptoms is a proper diagnosis, which our eye doctors and eye care clinic can provide.

Eye Allergy Treatment & Management

If indoor allergens are causing your eye allergy symptoms, avoidance is the key to relief. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce dust in your home or try keeping pets out of the bedroom to reduce exposure to their dander.

If pollen and other seasonal allergens are causing your misery, here are a few helpful suggestions:

    • Wear a hat with a wide brim to reduce the amount of allergen that blows into the eyes.
    • Sunglasses can also help reduce the amount of allergen that lands in the eyes.
    • Apply saline eye drops to the eyes after being outdoors to wash away allergens from the ocular lining.
  • Over-the-counter antihistamine pills and eye drops are often used for short-term treatment of eye allergy symptoms. However, prolonged use of some eye drops may actually make your symptoms worse.

If you have any questions about spring pollen and eye allergies, please contact us at (757) 966-2206.

Drs. Scott and Lisa Gontarek invite you
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About our eye care clinic

Since 2010, our eye doctors have provided families in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake with the best eye care possible. Our optometrist and staff are rooted in the philosophy of good old fashioned honesty and customer service – and our patients appreciate that. Our eye doctors and staff provide help with eye allergies, contact lenses, eye exams, eye glasses, and more.