Millions of Americans have allergies. Most of those millions have symptoms involving their eyes. A common eye allergy affects that clear layer of skin that covers the front of your eyes and the inside of your lids. Your doctor may refer to it as allergic conjunctivitis.
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There are several different causes for this. But for the most part, if you're allergic to a particular substance and then come into contact with it, you have an allergic reaction like itching and sneezing. Causes of Eye Allergies That layer of skin covering the front of your eyes? It’s the same type of skin that lines the inside of your nose. Because these two areas are so similar, the same things can trigger allergic reactions in both places. Common triggers include: Pollen Grass Weeds Dust Pet dander If you have seasonal allergies, you generally have symptoms for a short time. You may be bothered in the spring by tree pollen, in the summer by grass pollen, or in the fall by weed pollen. The symptoms tend to clear up during other times of the year, especially in the winter. If you have "perennial allergies," your symptoms probably last all year. You're likely allergic to indoor things, like dust mites, cockroaches, and pet dander. Seasonal outdoor allergens may make things worse if you’re sensitive to them, too. SLIDESHOW Tips to Help You Tackle Eye Allergies Start Symptoms Seasonal and perennial allergies have identical symptoms and, almost always, itching lets you know you’re having an allergic reaction. Along with itchy eyes, you may have: Redness Tearing Burning sensation Blurred vision Inflammation Runny nose When to Get Medical Care Your symptoms should improve on their own if you know what you’re allergic to and you can avoid it. But if you don’t know what causes your allergy, skin testing by an allergist can help figure it out. If you still don’t know or you can’t avoid the cause, a doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery -- an ophthalmologist -- may be able to help. If you have seasonal allergies, make an appointment with him prior to your allergic season. This will let you start treatment before your symptoms kick in. If you have perennial allergies, routine appointments may be helpful. Occasional flare-ups may mean you need to see him more often. It might also help to get a consultation with an allergist.