eye allergies


allergies of the eyes

Click here to download a PDF version of this document to print.  

Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the clear layer of tissue lining the eyelids and covering the white of the eye (the conjunctiva) become swollen or inflamed due to a reaction to pollen, dander, mold, or other allergy-causing substances.  When your eyes are exposed to anything to which you are allergic, histamine is released and starts the allergic cascade of symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Eye Allergies?

The surface of the eye may exhibit a wide variety of responses resulting in inflammation.  Common symptoms include:

Foreign body sensation

Intense itching or burning of the eyes

Puffy eyelids, especially in the morning

Redness of the eyes

Stringy eye discharge

Tearing or watery eyes

Light sensitivity

Discomfort with contact lens wear

Types of Eye Allergies


This is the most common type of allergic conjunctivitis.  This is a generally a short-term condition, usually associated with seasonal allergies.  The eyes may swell, itch, and burn.


Chronic allergic conjunctivitis, although less common, can occur year-round. It is a response to allergens like food, dust, and animal dander. Burning and itching of the eyes and light sensitivity are common symptoms.

Evaluation and Testing

Diagnosis of allergic conjunctivitis is generally made by a thorough history and careful clinical observation.  Eye care specialist  Dr. Yecheskel takes great care in evaluating the health of the eye for her patients in Rockville, Maryland to ensure a detailed clinical picture of the nature of the allergies. Undiagnosed and uncontrolled allergies are often reasons for eye discomfort.  In addition, dry eye often accompanied with allergies. It is important to note and address all underlying issues surrounding the allergies to ensure proper management by seeing an optometrist.  

Eye Allergy Treatment

Depending on the severity and nature of the eye allergy symptoms, there are many ways to control the allergic response. Since the presence of an antigen starts the allergic cascade, avoidance of the offending antigen is the primary behavioral modification for all types of allergic conjunctivitis.

Defining the timing, severity and specific subtype of the allergic response, the management of the allergy varies.   Proper hygiene, cold compresses and artificial tear use may provide relief for mild cases.  There are also a variety of medications specifically designed for the eyes that can manage more severe symptoms, including topical antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids.  

Dr. Hannah Yecheskel gathers a full understanding of the nature of the allergies and then tailors the treatment accordingly to minimize the use of medication and provide the most optimal relief. To make an appointment with our eye doctor in the Rockville, Maryland and Washington, DC area, give us a call at (301) 984-3937