Medical Conditions & Treatments : Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

Allergy Relief: Soothing Swollen Eyes

Allergy symptoms often include itchy, watery, red, and swollen eyes. Here's the scoop on medications and home remedies that can provide relief.

By Diana Rodriguez

Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

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Whether you're out in the fresh spring air or cleaning your dusty basement, allergens run amok throughout the year. They trigger allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, stuffy and runny nose — and swollen eyes. Allergies can cause the eyes to swell and become red, itchy, watery, and really uncomfortable.

"The reason people have swollen eyes … from allergies is they're getting contact in the eyes from airborne allergens," says Princess Ogbogu, MD, assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in the division of pulmonary, allergy, critical care, and sleep medicine.

"Basically, what happens is that when the allergens hit your eyes, they sort of dissolve in your tears," says Dr. Ogbogu. "They have contact with the lining of the eye [the conjunctiva], and they react with antibodies that are bound to cells in your eyes," she says. These antibodies cause the body to release histamine — which also causes nasal congestion that often accompanies swollen eyes.

The allergens doing this damage include outdoor allergens like pollen and molds and indoor allergens such as cat and dog allergens, and indoor molds.

How Bad Can Swollen Eyes Get?

Jacqueline Jones, 31, of Frankfort, Ky., knows what it feels like to have severely swollen eyes.

"Although the medications and shots have helped reduce my other symptoms, they did not do much good in treating my ‘allergy eyes,’" Jones says. “My eyes often become swollen, itchy, bloodshot, and watery. Not only is it an unpleasant feeling, it looks awful and I have had people ask me if I have been crying or if I was ill, because of how bad my eyes looked."

Jones's allergy symptoms also made her contact lenses blurry, interfering with her vision.

Tips to Ease Swollen Eyes

Remember, these are your eyes we’re talking about, so check with your doctor before you try any treatment.

Consider the following remedies:

  • Wash your face.Washing your face is one of the first things you should do to combat itchy, swollen eyes, says Ogbogu. It can help wash away the allergens sticking to your skin and eyelashes.
  • Rinse out the eyes."Rinse out the eyes if you can with a little bit of water, and that's usually helpful," Ogbogu adds. That will loosen the allergens from the inside of your eyes and help to flush them out.
  • Apply a cold compress."Cold compresses around the eyes can be helpful with itching and swelling," says Ogbogu. Soak a towel or washcloth in cold water or refrigerate a damp cloth or eye pillow. Then lie down with the compress across your eyes to let the coolness reduce swelling.
  • Try allergy eye drops.Ogbogu suggests trying an over-the-counter eye drop made to soothe itchy, swollen eyes caused by allergies. Jones' ophthalmologist prescribed an antihistamine eye drop which along with her other allergy treatments, soothes her eyes.
  • Take oral medications or get allergy shots.Ogbogu says that over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications, including antihistamines, can provide some relief for milder allergy symptoms, including swollen eyes. Along with her eye drops, Jones receives twice-weekly allergy shots and takes several allergy medications to keep her allergy symptoms under control.
  • Stay indoors."Weather conditions play a role," says Ogbogu. A breezy day with lots of pollen in the air can keep you from soothing swollen eyes because of continued exposure to allergens. On days when outdoor allergens are high, stay inside — and save outdoor activities for just after a rain, when fewer allergens fill the air.

But if the following occur, you should call your doctor immediately:

  • Feeling like there's something stuck in your eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Decreased vision

Ogbogu says even these do-it-yourself and home remedies aren't always a good choice.

Video: Acupressure for a Swollen Face

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Date: 12.12.2018, 19:16 / Views: 54344