Eye Allergy (Allergic Eye Disease)

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Jay Woody is a diplomat of the American Board of Emergency Medicine, a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Medicine and is an Attending Physician at Parkland Health and Hospital System, Children's Medical Center of Dallas as well as several other north Texas facilities. He is a well-known and widely published authority in the field of emergency medicine and the former regional medical director of a freestanding emergency medicine practice.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View the Eye Diseases and Conditions Slideshow Pictures

Eye Allergy Symptoms: Eye Discharge

Eye discharge occurs whenever there is excess fluid in the eye. Eye discharge may be clear and watery, like tears, or in the case of infections, it may be thick and opaque. There are many causes of eye discharge, ranging from infections to allergic reactions. Allergic reactions can cause itchy, watery eyes. Both allergies and infections cause pinkeye, or conjunctivitis. Eye discharge associated with infections is usually accompanied by other symptoms including:

  • redness (bloodshot appearance),
  • burning,
  • blurred vision,
  • or eye pain.

Photophobia (sensitivity to light) can be associated with eye infections. Most causes of eye discharge are not serious and can be easily treated.

Picture of eye allergies

Eye allergy facts

  • Most allergic eye conditions are more irritating than dangerous.
  • Allergic or vernal keratoconjunctivitis may result in scarring of the cornea and visual problems.
  • Itchy eyes are probably allergic eyes.
  • Topical antihistamine/decongestant preparations 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.
  • If in doubt about an eye condition, seek medical advice sooner rather than later.

Eye allergy introduction

The eyes are the windows to the soul because they reflect our state of mind. This certainly can't be true if our eyes are red, swollen, watery, and itchy from an allergic reaction. Severe allergic eye symptoms can be very distressing and are a common reason for visits to the allergist, ophthalmologist, and even the emergency room. Occasionally, severe eye allergies cause serious damage that can threaten eyesight.

What causes eye allergies?

Eye allergies usually are associated with other allergic conditions, particularly hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and atopic eczema (dermatitis). The causes of eye allergies are similar to those of allergic asthma and hay fever. Medications and cosmetics can play a significant role in causing eye allergies. Reactions to eye irritants and other eye conditions (for example, infections such as pink eye) are often confused with eye allergy. Any kind of irritant, whether environmental, infectious, or manmade, can cause symptoms consistent with eye allergies.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/9/2016
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