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Many people suffer from allergies, and a common symptom is itchy, watery, or burning eyes. Other conditions, like conjunctivitis, can also be prompted by allergies.

Approximately 15% of Canadians have seasonal allergies, though studies suggest that the number is growing. It is becoming more common to hear of people using antihistamine eye drops or oral tablets to deal with their allergy symptoms.

Symptoms of Eye Allergies
For sufferings of seasonal allergies, common symptoms include:

  • Runny eyes/excessive tearing
  • Red eyes or eyelids
  • Itchy or scratching sensation
  • Burning sensation
  • Sensitivity to light

What Causes Allergies?
Some people have sensitivity to grasses, pollen, dander, and other allergens. If your eye allergies are caused by seasonal factors, chances are it’s one of the common ones. In terms of why some people react to allergens and others don’t, that is a long and complicated process better explained here.

Not all allergic reactions are caused by seasonal factors. Your eyes may react to different types of stimuli, from makeup to the solution you use to clean your contact lenses (never mind the contacts themselves!).

Treating Eye Allergies
While there may be options to help you manage the symptoms of eye allergies, the only effective “cure” is to remove the allergens from your life. Limiting your exposure to whatever you are allergic to is the best way to prevent symptoms from flaring up.

To treat the symptoms directly, there are a few options:

  • Antihistamines – Found in the form of over the counter eye drops, oral tablets, or patches. These work by preventing the histamine cells from inducing an allergic response.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – A common treatment for hay fever is to use NSAID eye drops.
  • Prescription medication – If over the counter options aren’t helping, we may prescribe more aggressive treatments.