Allergies cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms like coughing, sneezing — and swollen eyes. Whether it's due to seasonal pollen, pet dander, dust mites, or other allergens, dealing with swollen eyes can be both irritating and unsightly. Fortunately, there are numerous options for treating eyes swollen from allergies.
We’re discussing common causes of this symptom and how to treat swollen eyes from allergies. Learn different approaches to managing eyes swollen from allergies and other associated symptoms for short-term relief and long-term prevention.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: Eyes Swollen From Allergies
Before you learn how to treat swollen eyes from allergies, it’s important to understand what this symptom is. Eyes swollen from allergies are known as allergic conjunctivitis. It’s a common condition of allergy symptoms characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye.
Swollen eyes from allergies is different from other forms of conjunctivitis (pink eye) in key ways. Most notably, allergic conjunctivitis isn’t infectious or contagious. It results from your immune system's response to allergens, which means it’s safe to be around others without transmitting the condition.
Eye allergies typically affect both eyes, causing swelling, burning, or teariness. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) notes swollen eyes from allergies may become more sensitive to light(1).
What Causes Swollen Eyes From Allergies?
If you’re wondering how to treat swollen eyes from allergies, it’s important to first understand what’s causing the symptoms. Symptoms like eyes swollen from allergies happen when the eyes come into contact with allergens, harmless substances that trigger a defensive response from your immune system. Your immune system releases histamines and other chemicals to protect your body which can affect your eyes and lead to a range of symptoms, including swelling.
Common allergens that cause swollen eyes include:
- Pollen: Seasonal allergies are often caused by pollen from trees, grasses, and flowers. These seasonal allergies start at different times of the year depending on your region, climate, and weather, but are often especially prevalent during spring and fall resulting in "hay fever."
- Pet dander: Allergens found in pet saliva, skin cells, and urine, particularly from cats and dogs, can lead to swollen eyes from allergies.
- Dust mites: Dust mites in your home are microscopic creatures that thrive in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpeting. Exposure to dust mite allergens can result in eye allergies.
- Mold spores: Mold spores, which are prevalent in damp and humid environments, can become airborne and trigger eye allergies.
- Contact allergens: Ingredients in personal products such as cosmetics can lead to swollen eyes from allergies.
When learning how to treat swollen eyes from allergies, it's essential to identify and reduce exposure to the specific allergens that trigger your symptoms. Allergy home testing, taking an allergy test at a CLIA-certified lab like Labcorp and Quest, or making an appointment with an allergy clinic will help determine which allergens you’re sensitive to. An allergist will walk you through the differences between an allergy blood test vs skin test to decide which is right for you. If your allergy is due to an allergen coming into contact with your skin such as a personal product, a Patch Test can be performed in the Allergist’s office
How to Treat Swollen Eyes From Allergies Effectively
The severity of your condition and related symptoms will dictate the most effective method for how to treat swollen eyes from allergies effectively. It’s vital that you and your allergist consider short-term relief and long-term allergy treatment solutions. An allergy test, in combination with other factors like your personal and family medical history, will help your allergist prescribe a treatment regimen that meets your needs.
Short-Term Relief for Swollen Eyes From Allergies
When you're in the midst of allergy-induced eye swelling, you want immediate relief from the discomfort. Short-term measures for how to treat swollen eyes from allergies help you quickly alleviate the symptoms and regain comfort now.
- Apply a cold compress: Applying a cold compress to your closed eyes for 15-20 minutes can effectively reduce swelling and soothe any discomfort. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, reducing the appearance of puffiness and calming irritation.
- Use an antihistamine eye drop: Non-prescription antihistamine eye drops are readily available at most pharmacies and can provide rapid relief. These drops work by blocking the histamine response in your eyes, reducing itching and swelling. It’s important to understand how an antihistamine works and the potential long-term risks of using antihistamines before starting them.
- Avoid rubbing: Resist the temptation to rub your eyes when they're itchy or swollen. Rubbing can exacerbate swelling and introduce more allergens into your eyes, worsening your symptoms.
Long-Term Treatment for Eyes Swollen From Allergies
While short-term solutions are crucial for immediate relief, it's equally important to focus on long-term management and prevention of eyes swollen from allergies:
- Identify allergens: Determining the specific allergens that trigger your eye allergies is a fundamental step in managing the condition. This helps you prepare for periods of heightened allergen levels that affect you as well as minimize allergen exposure in your home with various adjustments.
- Start allergen-proofing: Regularly clean your home, bathe your pets, vacuum, and use air purifiers to remove allergens from the air. Reducing indoor allergen levels can significantly reduce allergic eye symptoms.
- Begin immunotherapy: Allergy immunotherapy works to gradually desensitize your immune system to specific allergens over time, offering long-term relief from allergies. Allergy drops prescribed by an allergist are a popular method of treatment, especially for those looking to avoid more invasive options like allergy shots.
You can effectively learn how to treat swollen eyes from allergies with the right strategies. Identifying allergens, implementing allergy-proofing measures, and using targeted allergy treatments will help you reduce the impact of allergic eye swelling and maintain clear, comfortable vision. Consult an allergist for professional guidance and a customized treatment plan.
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