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Eye Irritants

Illustration of common allergens

Common Allergens

Allergies are more than just an annoyance for your eyes. They can be painful, make your eyes dry, burn, itch or even run, causing great discomfort.
Individuals experience allergy-like symptoms in their eyes and don't know to attribute it to allergies. They mistakenly believe they have a virus or there is something wrong with their eyes. Do you know the different types of allergies that can affect your eyes? Here are a few of the most common allergies that can cause vision problems.

Seasonal Allergies More than 50 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies. Depending on what you are allergic to - pollen, grass, or a certain type of tree - your allergies could strike during just about any season (with winter allergies being the least common). Seasonal allergies are also referred to as outdoor allergies and can lead to itchy eyes, eye redness and other types of discomfort.
Often, doctors will recommend controlling these allergies with an over-the-counter allergy medication or eye drops. In more severe cases, an allergist will be able to help recommend other treatment. Prescribed medications may have a drying impact on your eyes though, so ask your optometrist if this type of dryness persists. Also, wearing sunglasses can help protect your eyes from allergens flying through the air. A stylish, over-sized pair of sunglasses can be one of your eye's defenses against seasonal allergies.

Pet Allergies Most cats and many species of dogs have something called dander in their hair. They leave this dander in your carpet, on your furniture and in any clothing they get near. This dander can cause a serious reaction for those with pet allergies, with symptoms like red, burning and itching eyes. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications and staying away from animals that irritate your allergies if possible are the easiest solutions.

Food-related Allergies Food allergies can be very subtle. Unless you have a severe allergy, like those who have an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, you may not even realize that your itchiness or dryness is coming from something you ate. Aside from nuts, dairy allergies, wheat (gluten) allergies and citrus allergies are among the most common. If you find that your eyes become runny, itchy or swollen after you eat a certain type of food, you may be suffering from food allergies.

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