DO YOU HAVE AN EYE INFECTION OR ALLERGIES?
KNOWING WHAT’S BOTHERING YOU CAN HELP YOU DECIDE ON TREATMENT
Having itchy eyes is never fun. Medically known as ocular pruritus, it can be extremely aggravating and distracting from day-to-day life. But an important step is knowing whether you have an infection or simply a nasal allergy. That will dictate the kind of treatment you need.
People with irritated eyes may have a type of conjunctivitis. Often called by its nickname, “pink eye,” infectious conjunctivitis is caused by something foreign. If you suspect an eye infection, consult your physician.
There are other causes of irritated eyes as well, like blepharitis, which is when your eyelid is inflamed or your oil glands are clogged. Once you can pinpoint your causes, you can get closer to the relief of clearer eyes.
With patients that have allergies, allergy medication can be helpful.
DO YOU WEAR CONTACT LENSES?
If you wear contact lenses and are experiencing eye irritation, you may have conjunctivitis caused by over-wearing your lenses. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), contact lense overwear, badly fitting lenses and improper cleaning of lenses can lead to contact lense-induced conjunctivitis.
The AAO also recommends using rigid gas permeable lenses -- made of firm, durable plastic that lets in oxygen -- instead of generic soft contact lenses. The latter tends to induce more pruritus.
ARE YOU USING ANY NEW PRODUCTS?
Any new creams, soaps or makeup in your life? This points to common eye irritation. According to the AAO, when makeup directly touches the surface of the eye, irritation can occur. Aggravation caused by exposure to any of these products is often due to blepharitis. That means your eyelid, as opposed to your conjunctiva, may be inflamed. Symptoms tend to develop within one to three days of exposure.
DO YOUR EYES ITCH THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?
According to the AAO, perennial complaints of eye irritation are often associated with allergic conjunctivitis. That’s because you’re not coming in contact with a trigger like a virus or bacterial infection.
For allergic conjunctivitis, it helps if you can pinpoint times that you feel symptoms of conjunctivitis. If your eyes are irritated while at home and have a pet, you may be reacting to pet dander.
ONE IS MORE IRRITATING, WHILE THE OTHER LINGERS
Finally, the main difference between allergies and an eye infection is that an eye infection can be serious and may require prescription treatment, while allergies are always lurking. That means you need to be even more vigilant in treating them, and see an allergist to figure out the best solution for you.