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What to Do with Red, Scratchy, Itchy Eyes

Posted // Monday, May 6, 2013

With spring comes pollen, and with pollen comes allergies — often resulting in itchy, watery eyes. That’s a normal reaction to minor irritation, but how can you be sure it’s not a sign of something more serious? Dr. Lydia Lane sat down with Alyse Eady at THV Channel 11 to provide insight into how to tell if that eye itch is simple allergies or something else. Watch the interview below and read further down for more information.

Seasonal allergies We’re in prime time for airborne pollen and will be for several more weeks. When a person who’s allergic to pollen comes in contact with it, their body generates histamines. That’s what triggers the itchy, red and watery eyes common to this time of year — something that’s usually not severe enough to require medical attention. Over-the-counter remedies like antihistamines, eye drops and decongestants work well to manage seasonal allergy symptoms. 

Contact allergies These can potentially be more serious; many people are allergic to certain products such as cosmetics, medications or some detergents — all of which can cause an allergic reaction. While a lot of the symptoms caused by physical contact with an allergen can be eliminated by avoidance or cleansing after contact, if the eye doesn’t improve after a short time you should call your eye care professional.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) – Pink eye is a group of diseases that irritate the lining of the eyelid and the white of the eye. It causes the blood vessels in the white area to become inflamed and makes them visible, giving the eye a pink color.  Pink eye can be bacterial, viral, allergic or environmental in origin. This condition affects millions of people at any given time. You should see your eye care professional if you have pink eye, because some forms can worsen and cause vision loss.

Infections of the cornea If a foreign object penetrates the cornea’s tissue, or if bacteria from a contaminated contact lens get into the cornea, it can cause a corneal infection called keratitis. Keratitis reduces visual clarity, makes the eye water and can damage the cornea. It’s also the most serious complication associated with wearing contact lenses, and it takes prompt and comprehensive professional care to treat.