Dealing with Itchy Eyes

You know the feeling—spring hits, your eyelids get puffy, and your eyes start to water and itch so badly that it’s almost unbearable. Your eyes may also make mucus that accumulates on your eyeball, obscuring your vision. The mucus may build up at night, leaving you with a crust on your eyelids when you wake up in the morning. If this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from allergic conjunctivitis, which is especially prevalent in spring and fall when allergies are at their peak.

Deal with Itchy Eyes

(Freeimages / R Stewart)

Trees pollens can cause allergic eyes in early spring. Grasses can do the same in late spring. Molds spurred by spring rains can also lead to conjunctivitis.

The term conjunctivitis is derived from “conjunctiva,” which is the membrane that lines the eyelids and sclera (white part of the eye). This lining can become inflamed due to allergies and cause all of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with conjunctivitis or “pink eye.”

If you have suffered from conjunctivitis in the past, you may have tried a few options. First, there are antihistamine eye drops that can help reduce the inflammation that causes conjunctivitis. The drops are available in over-the-counter or prescription forms. You can also try antihistamine pills or tablets, which can reduce inflammation in different parts of the body, including the eyes. Your doctor may be able to help you get started on one of these medications or even a combination of them.

If your conjunctivitis is recurring and stays for more than a few months of the year, or if it occurs for less time but is severe, you may want to talk to a doctor about allergy immunotherapy treatment. Immunotherapy may be an especially good fit for you if you are affected by other allergy symptoms, too, such as hay fever, eczema, wheezing, or asthma.

Allergy immunotherapy can be delivered through subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (under-the-tongue allergy drops). Both have a distinct advantage over eye drops and allergy pills in that they can help “rewire” your immune system to stop overreacting to allergens in the environment. Where medications provide a short-term band- aid treatment, allergy immunotherapy can provide long-term relief so your allergies won’t keep recurring with each passing allergy season.

Your physician can answer your questions about the allergy test and allergy treatment programs and discuss the cost of allergy drops as compared to allergy shots. If you think pets are contributing to your itchy eyes, your doctor can prescribe shots or sublingual immunotherapy for cat and dog allergies, too.

Spring is a season of renewal and beauty with its greenery, blossoms, and sunny days. If you’re tired of viewing spring through red, itchy eyes, talk to your allergy doctor today.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.