Allergies affect more than one third of the population and ocular allergies occur in a large percentage of these people. Symptoms of ocular allergies are swelling of the eyelids, redness, watering, itching or a stringy mucus discharge.

The following may offer relief of symptoms:

• Avoiding the allergen by keeping the house clean and staying indoors when the pollen count is high.

• Cool compresses can soothe the eyes and help to reduce swelling.

• Artificial tears lubricate the eye, while also flushing out allergens.

• Avoiding contact lenses.

• Refraining from rubbing the eyes as rubbing can make the inflammation worse.

• Allergy drops, such as topical antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers, can reduce the inflammatory response and symptoms.

• Topical steroid drops are used in cases of more severe ocular allergies. Topical steroids are prescription drops and should only be used under the supervision of your eye care provider due to secondary side effects that can be associated with them.

It is important to start treatment of ocular allergies early to avoid any escalation of symptoms. While OTC oral allergy medications can help symptoms of allergic rhinitis and sinus congestion, they are not always effective in alleviating symptoms of eye allergies.

The symptoms of ocular allergies can often be similar to other eye problems such as viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. Your optometrist can differentiate between these different conditions and determine the appropriate treatment. Contact Vista Eye Care at 520-625-5673 to have any itching, redness, watering, swelling of the eyelids or discharge from the eyes evaluated.