If you consult with your Washington DC eye doctor about red, itchy, irritated eyes, it may be a sign of allergic conjunctivitis, or “eye allergies”, which are common in the DC Metro area. Unlike bacterial or viral conjunctivitis– which a Washington DC eye specialist may also diagnose– allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, and occurs when they eye comes into contact with certain substances. Typically these substances, known as allergens, are harmless. However, a particularly sensitive immune system may treat them as harmful substances, and the eye may release histamines to fight them. In the process, eyes become watery and inflamed.
Eye allergies may occur in conjunction with other allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, or may occur by themselves. While they are often caused by airborne substances such as pollen, ragweed or mold spores, they may also be a result of food allergies, insect bites or stings. There are many causes for eye irritation. Consulting with an eye doctor will help determine whether your eye irritation is due to allergy or infection. Your Washington DC eye doctor can examine your eye for allergy symptoms and, in some instances, perform a diagnostic skin test. If necessary, your doctor can refer you to a Washington DC allergist for more extensive allergy management such as immunotherapy.
While it is of course impossible to avoid allergens such as pollen, especially as springtime is upon us, you can reduce the severity of your symptoms by avoiding exposure to known eye irritants. Stay indoors as much as possible, particularly (if your allergy is pollen-related) during peak pollen hours such as mid-morning and early evening. Wear protective glasses and sunglasses. Keep your air vents clean and do not use window fans, which may draw in allergens from the outside air. If you are allergic to mold, clean the humid areas of your home, such as basements and bathrooms, frequently. And for any airborne allergy, commit to regularly washing your clothes and bedding in hot water to remove irritants that have been trapped in the fabrics.
As of now, neither our Washington DC eye doctors nor their allergist peers have a cure for eye allergies. However, this condition is common and highly manageable. With the proper diagnosis from your eye doctor in Washington DC, you can find yourself on the road to relief. If you believe you are suffering from eye allergies in Washington DC, contact our Washington DC eye specialists today.