My eyes itch. Could it be from allergy?

The following was written by Bill Evans and published in the Coolum and North Shore News, Ask the Professionals page on Friday, 27th August 2010.

Q: My eyes itch. Could it be from allergy?

A: Itchy eyes are a common symptom of ocular allergies, a condition that affects up to 1 in 5 people. Aside from itchy eyes, typical symptoms of ocular allergy include teary eyes, burning, sensitivity to light, redness, irritation and foreign body sensations. Other signs include swelling of the conjunctiva (called chemosis), mucous present in the tear film, drooping eyelids (ptosis) and eyelid eczema.

Some ocular allergies related to the release of pollens during spring, others caused by house dust mites and animal dander. Sometimes they can be related to allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema or food allergies. Some ocular allergy is caused by contact lens wear, or even from the agents or preservatives in some eye drops, hair spray or cosmetics.

Limiting your exposure to what is causing the allergy is a good start to treating ocular allergies. Ocular lubricants, antihistamine eye drops, systemic antihistamine tablets and mast cell stabiliser eye drops can be effective treatments. Corticosteroid drops may be necessary in cases where other treatments have been ineffective.