WHAT CAUSES EYE ALLERGIES?

Dr. Jim Martin 03/11/2014

3736823_orig.pngWith spring right around the corner, many people are beginning to dread the appearance of seasonal eye allergies. Others have the misfortune of dealing with these kinds of allergies year round. In the U.S., about 20 percent of people have eye allergies at some point in a given year. Over 85 percent of those people deal with red, itchy eyes that make them miserable until the allergens clear.

The eyes have a protective layer known as the conjunctiva that can become inflamed due to an allergic reaction. That is what gives the eyes the itchy feeling and is what promotes the red appearance of allergy eyes.

Understanding the triggers for eye allergies is the first step in controlling and minimizing their effects.

Three Common Causes of Eye Allergies

Allergens of all sorts can cause people to have a reaction in their eyes. This includes mold spores, smoke particulates, perfumes, cosmetics, and drugs, among many others. However, some triggers are more common than others.

Here are three of the most causes of these allergies:

  1. Pollen - Most seasonal allergies start when ragweed, trees and grasses begin to produce pollen. Ragweed is very common in Amarillo, Texas. As the pollen begins to fly, it gets everywhere. People breathe it in. They get it in their eyes. It settles on their clothing. There is no real escape from it. Staying inside can minimize the exposure, but not completely eliminate it.
  2. Dust mites - About 20 million people in the U.S. have an allergy to dust mites. These microscopic bugs are among the most common triggers for eye allergies. They give off proteins and other waste products which cause the human body to have an allergic reaction. They inhabit areas where they can snack on dead skin cells. Furniture, bedding, and carpet are three examples. These are also areas where the face can come into contact.
  3. Cat dander - We do love our pets, but there are still 10 million people in the U.S. with an allergy to cat dander. A cat's skin cells contain certain proteins that give some humans an allergic reaction. As the skin cells die and flake off, it can stick to surfaces throughout the house. It can stick to clothing and move from residence to residence. Although not as common, many people suffer from dog dander allergies. About 62% of all U.S. households have pets, so it's important to know what you can do to help reduce allergic reactions to our furry friends. 


If you are dealing with eye allergies, a visit to the eye doctor can help. The eye doctor can determine what is causing your eye allergies and help you find solutions to the problem. 

Give us a call here at Broome Optical in Amarillo, Texas and let's get those allergies under control. In our part of the country, eye allergies run rampant throughout the year, especially in the spring, so our Amarillo eye care providers are very familiar with the symptoms and treatment options. 

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