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Eye Allergies

Teen Version

What are eye allergies?

An eye allergy is a allergic reaction to some substance on the surface of the eye. With an eye allergy, you will have:

  • itchy eyes (you may frequently rub them)
  • increased tearing
  • red or pink eyes (without pus)
  • mild swelling of the eyelids.

What is the cause?

Eye allergies that occur during the same season each year are caused by pollens. Allergies that are not seasonal may be caused by pets (for example, cats), feathers, perfumes, eye makeup, or another substance.

How long will it last?

Most eye allergies due to a pollen last 4 to 6 weeks, which is the length of most pollen seasons. If the allergic substance can be identified (for example, a cat) AND avoided, the symptoms will not return .

How can I take care of myself?

  • Remove pollen

    First wash the pollen off your face. Then use a clean washcloth and cool water to clean off your eyelids. (Tears will wash the pollen out of the eyes.) This rinse of the eyelids may need to be repeated every time you come in on a windy day. Pollen also collects in the hair and on exposed body surfaces. This pollen can easily be reintroduced into your eyes. Therefore, take a shower and shampoo every night before bedtime. Try not to touch your eyes unless your hands have been washed recently.

  • Eyedrops

    Usually, your eyes will feel much better after the pollen is washed out and a cold compress (for example, a cold, wet washcloth) is applied. If they are still itchy or bloodshot, put some special eyedrops in your eyes. Your eyedrops are _______________________. Use 1 to 2 drops every 6 to 8 hours as necessary.

  • Oral antihistamine

    If these measures aren't effective, you probably also have hay fever (that is, allergic symptoms of the nose) and need an oral antihistamine. Your medicine is _________________________. Take _________, ______ times a day until the pollen season is over.

How can eye allergies be prevented?

Don't touch your eyes unless your hands are washed. Your hands may contain pollen, animal substances, or other irritants. For young women, mascara or eyeliner may be the cause.

When should I call my health care provider?

Call during office hours if:

  • This treatment and an antihistamine do not relieve most of your symptoms in 2 or 3 days.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-07-31
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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