We all want to stop itchy eyes. Itchy eyes are a hallmark of allergic conjunctivitis. Eye rubbing is that uncontrollable urge that makes your eyes feel better in the short term, but worse in the long term. Rubbing stimulates rubbing. Allergies are your immune system trying to protect you from foreign substances. Immune cells (mast cells) detect foreign invaders like pollen. They then release a chemical called histamine which stimulates itching and the other symptoms of allergies like watery (or dry) eyes, red eyes, tearing, and runny nose. We know that a corneal condition called keratoconus can be made worse by vigorous eye rubbing. Unfortunately for us in Houston, allergy season is from January 1st to December 30th. In 2020, Houston ranked No. 1 for the highest pollen counts in the nation! Our long allergy season is due to the fact that our mild winters and humid, sunny climate stimulate plant growth. This leads to high pollen counts year round. We even see flowers blooming in the winter here.
Treating itching and allergies is about managing symptoms with as few side effects as possible. I recommend starting by removing allergens like pollen from the skin. You can do this with Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Hypocholorous acid cleaners like Zenoptiq and Avenova can also be helpful in killing skin bacteria. Additionally, the fastest and best treatment for itchy eyes are antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer eye drops. There are several brands available. Some are over the counter and others require a prescription. From time to time, new antihistamines are developed. Each person can respond somewhat differently to the different medications. Therefore, there is some degree of trial and error to find the one that will work best for you. Topical steroid eye drops are sometimes necessary as a next level treatment for severe or persistent allergies. Try to avoid being outside, wear sunglasses, and shower before bed. Remember, try to avoid pets that could be the cause of allergies or be covered in pollen.
If you have very severe symptoms or itching that just won’t go away with these treatments, it’s a good idea to see an allergist and consider allergy testing, systemic treatments, and allergy shots. My cousin Dr. Carlos Vital is an excellent allergist, and very smart…..just not as good looking!
In summary, come in so we can help you get comfortable and stop rubbing those precious eyes!
Call to see us at our Houston or Sugar Land locations. 713-668-6828 x2395