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Eye Allergies: Causes And Treatment

If you’re experiencing persistent eye irritation, such as watery and itchy eyes, it could be due to an allergic reaction caused by something in the air.

Don’t worry though – there are some simple things you can do that will help.

Learn all about eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, and get useful tips so you can find relief.

What Causes Eye Allergies?

Eye allergies, which are also referred to as allergic conjunctivitis, can occur when allergens in the air, such as pollen, pet dander or dust, come into contact with the thin membrane covering your eyeball.

For Example:

Spending time outside in the spring and summer months, when pollen counts are high, may lead pollen to become attached to clothing, skin or hair. When these particles come into contact with someone’s face, an eye allergy can be triggered.

Petting an adorable cat or a dog is something many people enjoy, but rubbing your eyes afterwards may transfer shed skin and fur from the animal to your eyes, which can lead to an allergic reaction

Dust and mold
Surfaces around the home can easily collect dust mites and mold spores, especially if they’re not cleaned frequently. Touching one of these surfaces and then putting your hand to your face could trigger eye allergies.


Why are my eyes itchy and watery?


When the membrane covering your eyeball, called the conjunctiva, becomes irritated by allergens, a chemical known as ‘histamine’ is released.

Histamine can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as itchy, watery and swollen eyes, as a result of allergies. So, if you’re experiencing itchy, watery eyes, there is a good chance that these symptoms are caused by allergies. Read on to learn more about some other common symptoms you may experience if you have eye allergies.

Eye Allergy Symptoms

Eye allergies can come with a variety of symptoms, ranking from minor eye irritation to more visible and annoying reactions.

In particular, allergic conjunctivitis might lead you to experience the following:

Illustration of a finger poking an eye

Itchy Eyes

Swollen eyes

Swollen Eyes

Watery eyes

Watery Eyes

Puffy eyes

Puffy Eyes

Swollen and itchy eyelids

Swollen/Itchy Eyelids

‘Burning’ Eyes

Dry eyes

Dry Eyes

Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Red eyes

Red Eyes

Warning icon

ZYRTEC® is only indicated for itchy, watery eyes.



How to Tell if Your Symptoms are Caused by Allergies or Something Else

Of course, allergic conjunctivitis isn’t the only thing that might cause these symptoms.

If your eyes are bothering you in winter, it’s unlikely to be hay fever or seasonal allergies that’s behind it. If you haven’t been near an animal, it might not be pet dander either.

Some symptoms, such as red, itchy and watery eyes, are also shared with eye infections – commonly known as bacterial conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye’.

If you also have these symptoms, it may be infection rather than an allergy that’s behind it:

  • Pain1
  • ‘Gritty’ feeling1
  • Sensitivity to light1
  • Thick and/or mucus-like discharge1

Be sure to seek medical advice if you are concerned or are in serious discomfort.


What’s the Difference Between Eye Allergies And Pink Eye?

Eye allergies, or allergic conjunctivitis, are caused by a reaction to allergens in the air, while pink eye (bacterial conjunctivitis) is usually down to bacterial infections, or a virus. Allergies usually cause irritation in both eyes too, while pink eye often occurs in one and then may spread to the other.

Unlike pink eye, eye allergies are not contagious – and will last only as long as you’re exposed to the allergen.

Head to our Pink Eye vs Allergies page to learn more about how to tell the difference between these two common eye conditions.



Eye Allergy Treatment And Relief Tips

The easiest method for eye allergy treatment and relief is to limit your exposure to allergens in the first place.

Try to limit time outdoors when pollen is at its peak and clean your air filters in the fall and winter to help prevent allergies related to mold and dust.

Some simple lifestyle changes can also help with allergies at home.


At-Home Eye Allergy Remedies

If you’re wanting some simple home remedies for itchy eyes, you can try to reduce eye irritation in the following ways:

  • Wash your eyes – this can help remove allergens and irritants that might be sticking to your eyes and eyelashes. Rinsing with water or a simple saline solution should do the trick
  • Apply a cold compress to your eyes – this can help reduce swelling and puffiness

Eye Allergy Medicine

Looking for the best allergy medicine for itchy eyes? ZYRTEC® tablets and liquid gels can help minimize watery eyes and other allergy symptoms. ZYRTEC® starts working at hour one and all of our antihistamine products contain Cetirizine HCl to relieve your worst allergy symptoms, indoors and out, for a full 24 hours.




How do you get rid of eye allergies?

There is no complete cure for eye allergies, but you can reduce itchy eyes and other symptoms by avoiding known triggers and taking antihistamines. When the pollen count is high, try and stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed .

If you’re allergic to pet dander, consider hard floors rather than carpet, which traps the dander. The medicated ZYRTEC® family of products can also help alleviate symptoms.


Why are my eye allergies worse in the morning and at night?

While there are exceptions to this, airborne pollen counts tend to be highest early in the day. Warm temperatures cause pollen to be pushed into the air, and on an evening when it cools down, the pollen falls back down and covers outdoor surfaces.

If you have a pet that sleeps in your room and you are allergic to dander, this can increase symptoms morning and night.


When should I see a doctor for eye irritation?

If puffy or itchy eyes or other symptoms cause problems with your daily life, see a doctor. You may want to record symptoms to help your doctor determine what irritates your eyes – our allergy forecast can also help.

If you have any symptoms that suggest an eye infection, such as thick discharge, a gritty feeling or pain, you should seek medical help.


* Symptoms that are treated by ZYRTEC®


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