Eye allergy which is also known as Allergic Conjunctivitis is quite common. Recent studies suggest that the prevalence of allergic conjunctivitis in general population is as high as 40%. Allergy cannot be cured. It can only be treated when the symptoms (itching, tearing, redness of eyes and puffiness of eyelids) become moderate to severe.
The best way to deal with allergy is to prevent it in the first place. Here are some changes you can make to avoid exposure to the allergens (pollens, dust mites and molds etc.):
1. Avoid using a window fan. It will blow huge amount of pollens into your house. Keep the windows closed especially if the pollen count in your area is high. Use air-conditioner instead.
2. Avoid using ceiling fan also. It causes turbulent flow of air within the room, makes the dust and pollens airborne which otherwise are lying on the floor and in the corners of the room. These airborne allergens then easily reach your eyes. The higher the speed of the ceiling fan the more will be the turbulence.
3. When you are driving, close the windows and use the air-conditioner for the same reason.
4. When you are out in the open, use sunglasses (especially the ones which cover all sides of your eyes) to prevent contact with the allergens in the air.
5. If you have itching in your eyes, avoid rubbing your eyes. The action of rubbing releases more histamine causing more redness and itching. You can use tear substitute eye drops to wash the allergens away from your eyes.
6. Wash your hands and face often. If you have allergens in your hands and on your face, there are chances that you will be introducing them into your eyes more often than your realize you do.
7. Change clothes after you get back home from outside. Your clothing may bring pollens into the house and you may spread them on your sofa, chairs and beds for example.
8. Use allergy-reducing casings and coverings for the mattress, bed and pillow. This is important because you spend a major portion of your day on your bed. The pillow and bed transfer a lot of allergens to your eyes without you realizing it.
9. Wash bed sheets with hot water often.
10. Prefer mopping the floor using a mop and bucket to sweeping the floor with a broom.
11. Rugs and carpets are a haven for the allergens. Either wash them or change them if they are too old.
12. Avoid using furniture with upholstery.
13. To reduce mold in the house, keep the humidity to a minimum. Use dehumidifiers if required.
14. Using High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in your house is an effective way of filtering out pollens out of the air.
15. Pets especially cats and dogs are a common source of allergens. Many people are allergic to the products of their saliva, urine and skin flakes (dander). Keep the pets out of the house. If you bring them inside, do not allow them to use your bed at least. You must essentially minimize exposure to the allergens from their body and the allergens they bring from outside – dust and pollens for example.
If you take the above measures, you will notice definite improvement in your eye allergy symptoms along with improvement in nasal and skin allergy. Prevention is always better than treating eye allergy. Prolonged allergy causes discoloration of the white part of the eye especially if it remains untreated. Using topical treatment (eye drops) has its own downsides. Steroid eye drops for example, upon prolonged use, can cause glaucoma and cataracts.
The main challenge of following prevention advice as above is that we don’t tend to take action about something which is not visible (microscopic allergens in our case). The best way out is to keep a record of your allergic symptoms as you make changes in your house and develop new habits to reduce exposure to allergens. With your symptoms improving, you will be able to ‘see’ the outcome of your efforts.