Allergic rhinitis and red eyes
There are a wide range of symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis – a condition that’s caused by an over-sensitive immune system. Instead of ignoring the likes of pollen, animal dander, mould spores and dust mites, the immune system reacts to them and releases histamine which causes all sorts of havoc for our body.
Problems on the outer layer of the eye that are caused by the body’s reaction to allergens are generally termed allergic conjunctivitis. Symptoms of this include swelling, itchiness and redness in the eye.
When your eyes become itchy as a result of an over-reaction to certain allergens, this tends to make them red too. This is all down to the body’s inflammatory response which causes the blood vessels on the white outer layer of the eye to dilate or swell. This is an attempt to fight off allergens that may be within the eye area.
If the eyes are itchy it is extremely tempting to rub them to ease the problem however, this is best avoided as it will only make the area redder. This is because rubbing your eyes increases irritation rather than removing the problem, plus it can damage blood vessels too.
How to tell if allergic rhinitis is causing red eyes
From cold weather to colds and flu, there are a many things that can cause red eyes so to help you work out if allergic rhinitis is behind the issue, here are a few things to consider.
Frequency – if your eyes are red often rather than intermittently it may be a sign that allergic rhinitis is the cause.
Season – pollen is the most common cause of allergic rhinitis so if your eyes become red in the spring and summer months when plants pollinate, this may indicate that allergic rhinitis is the cause.
Where – dust mites, mould spores and animal dander are some additional examples of things that cause allergic rhinitis. All of these are found indoors so if you feel your eyes become redder when you’re inside allergic rhinitis may be the reason for this.
What can you do?
It’s common for allergic rhinitis sufferers to experience red eyes during a flare up of the condition. This can be uncomfortable but luckily there are a few things you can do to address the problem.
Avoid foods with lots of histamine – things like caffeine, smoked meat and alcohol are all high in histamine so these are best avoided when you’re suffering from allergic rhinitis as they will only make symptoms more intense.
Cold compress – wet a cloth with cold water and use this to press round the eye area. This may have a soothing effect on your symptoms.
Contact lenses – decreasing your use of contact lenses stops allergens from becoming trapped in the eye area which could help decrease redness
Glasses – if you know pollen is the cause of your allergic rhinitis wearing glasses outdoors may be helpful as this protects your eyes from pollen.
Opt for foods low in histamine - such foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh chicken, fresh fish and herbal teas.
Triggers - removing or avoiding your trigger is an easy way to improve your allergic rhinitis symptoms.
Moisturising Eye Drops – these are beneficial for a variety of eye problems that arise due to allergic rhinitis including watery eyes, itchy eyes and redness. It provides relief from irritation through the use of Euphrasia which has a long history in eye treatments.
Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets – these tablets address a whole range of allergic rhinitis symptoms such as congestion, itchy eyes and inflammation which often accompany the problem of redness around the eye. What’s more, these tablets are non-drowsy and can be used alongside conventional allergic rhinitis treatments as well.
For a general allergic rhinitis treatment, doctors often turn to anti-histamines as these block the release of histamine which is behind many of the symptoms linked to the condition.
Eye drops may also be recommended as these can have anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory or decongestant properties.