Treatment for eye allergies

Over-the-counter medications can usually help relieve eye allergy symptoms. People with severe allergies, however, may require additional treatment.

  • Ask your Mellins i.Style optometrist to recommend the correct eye drops. Although there are many different types of prescription and over-the-counter eye drops available that treat eye allergies, the most frequently prescribed eye drops for eye allergies are “mast cell stabilisers”. They contain olopatadine hydrochloride, an antihistamine that reduces the natural chemical histamine in the body. It therefore effectively relieves symptoms associated with an allergic reaction.
  • Other eye drops contain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications.
  • Further over-the-counter options include lubricating eye drops, such as “artificial tears,” which can help rinse allergens from the eyes.
  • Never buy off the shelf eye drops that contain a vascular constrictor (vasoconstrictor) that narrows the blood vessels to ‘reduce redness’. Regular use of these drops can lead to ‘rebound redness’. When the cause of redness is not treated correctly, these types of eye drops make the blood vessels expand as soon as the effect of the eye drops has stopped working.
  • Do not insert eye drops while wearing contact lenses. First remove the contact lenses and only insert them again after an hour by which time the drops will have been absorbed.
  • Try avoid rubbing your eyes as this may aggravate the symptoms.
  • A cool, moist washcloth may also provide soothing relief. This can help alleviate dryness as well as irritation. It will however not treat the underlying cause of the allergic reaction.
  • Remember to wear glasses or sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from pollen, especially during windy conditions.

Seven easy tips to minimise eye allergies and exposure to pollen

  • Clean your spectacles often. Try to use lens wipes or lens spray with no artificial cleaning ingredients.
  • If you find pollen affecting you in your home, hang up wet towels indoors to help capture pollen floating in the air.
  • Vacuum and clean your carpets regularly. Consider replacing old carpets and rugs with contemporary wooden or laminate floors and tiles.
  • Vacuum your mattress and wash pillow protectors regularly.
  • Wash your face and rinse your eyes more often
  • Wash your hair regularly to get rid of excess pollen.
  • Get changed in the bathroom. The humidity from the shower, basins etc. will prevent pollen from floating in the air.

What is the difference between eye allergies and ‘pink eye’?

Although ‘pink eye’ and eye allergies have similar symptoms, they are two different conditions.  Conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye’ refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin membrane that covers the eye ball and inner lining of the eyelids. When the conjunctiva becomes irritated or inflamed, conjunctivitis can occur. Whereas eye allergies are caused by an adverse immune reaction to certain substances such as dust or pollen, ‘pink eye’, is caused by bacterial infections, viruses, contact lenses and chemicals. The condition is highly contagious.  The eye appears red or pink, is itchy and irritated. A thick discharge usually builds up on one or both eyes at night.

Children and eye allergies, including pink eye

  • Eye drops are safe to use in children of three years and older – consult your optometrist or pharmacist.
  • If there is a discharge, use a moist cotton wipe, or clean face cloth to wipe the eye clean. Use a clean piece for each eye.
  • Always wipe from the inside corner of the eye to the outside.
  • Place cold cloths on your child’s eyes a few times a day if the eyes are itching or burning.
  • If your child has pink eye and wears contact lenses – remove the lenses and consult your optometrist.

The correct way to use and insert eye drops in your child’s eyes

  • Always use eye drops as directed and keep the bottle tip clean.
  • Tilt your child’s head back and pull the lower eyelid down with one finger
  • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid
  • The eye must be kept closed for a few seconds for the drops to spread
  • Keep the tip of the bottle away from eyelashes