Conditions Confused with Eye Allergies

The following is a list of symptoms which are commonly confused with eye allergy.

Dry eye

This condition results from reduced tear production and is frequently confused with allergy. The main symptoms are usually burning, grittiness, or the sensation of “something in the eye.” Dry eye usually occurs in people over 65 years of age and can certainly be worsened by oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Atarax), Claritin, or Zyrtec, sedatives, and beta-blocker medications.

Tear-duct obstruction

This is caused by a blockage in the tear passage that extends from the eyes to the nasal cavity. This condition is also typically seen in the elderly. The main complaint is watery eyes that do not itch. Allergy testing will be negative in this case.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis due to infection can be caused by either bacteria or viruses. In bacterial infections, the eyes are often “bright red” and the eyelids stick together, especially in the morning. A discolored mucous discharge is often seen, so-called “dirty eyes.” Viral conjunctivitis causes slight redness of the eyes and a glassy appearance from tearing. Adenovirus is a major cause of viral conjunctivitis. The herpes virus, such as that which causes chickenpox or shingles, can also affect the eye. Adenovirus infection is very contagious and may be spread by either direct contact, such as hand contact, or in contaminated swimming pools. You should seek medical attention if you suspect any of the above.

More on Eye Allergies

Comparted to some allergic reactions, most allergic eye conditions are more irritating than dangerous. However, some can result in permanent damage to the eye, for example allergic or vernal keratoconjunctivitis could result in scarring of the cornea and visual problems. Most allergic reactions are dry and itchy eyes.

Some of the ways to treat eye allergies are topical antihistamine/decongestant preparations, which are are effective and safe for mildly itchy, red eyes. Patanol, a topical mast-cell stabilizer, is a safe, highly effective, long-acting treatment. Topical steroids should be used with caution and under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.

There are things you can do to prevent allergy syptoms. Dry eyes may aggravate eye allergy symptoms. Tear substitutes, such as artificial tears, are an effective lubricant and a great treatment. Cold compresses may help, particularly with sudden allergic reactions and swollen eyes. Keep eyedrops refrigerated since this makes application more soothing.

As with any medical issues, if in doubt, seek medical advice sooner rather than later.

Prevent Macula Degeneration

Macula degeneration is an eye disease that affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field. Very small, fragile blood vessels begin to leak blood and fluid in the retina causing further damage and the macular degeneration progresses. It is still unknown why parts of the retina become diseased.

It has been shown that a combination of high-dose beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc can reduce the risk of progressing from early to advanced AMD by about 25 percent.

There is pigment in the macula that appears to act as a filter to protect the macular area against oxidation by light. Also this macular pigment can scavenge free radicals. In 2007, a study at the National Eye Institute, Maryland found that Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two yellow colored antioxidants found in leafy greens like spinach and kale, are the predominant pigments in this area.

Eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can lower your risk of macular degeneration.

To get the benefits of these antioxidants, some researchers believe you need to eat about 6 mg a day. But the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin needed to treat macular degeneration rises to about 11-12 mg per day. Because of the quality of diets these days it is estimated that a person only gets 1-2mg per day.

The best sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin are:

  • Kale and spinach
  • Turnip and collard greens
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peas
  • Egg yolk

By far the best source of lutein is in egg yolks. This source is superior because it is more easily absorbed by your body.

Lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient, so in order for the body to absorb it so try adding some fat like olive oil, butter, or coconut oil, to the leafy greens.