Itchy, watery, or swollen eyes? Light sensitive? You may have allergic conjunctivitis — inflammation of tissue lining the eyelids. Exposure to allergens releases histamines and the conjunctiva (clear membrane covering the “white” of the eye) swell. Pollen, pet dander, and perfumes can all trigger allergies.

Wrap-around sunglasses can prevent allergens from entering the eyes. Artificial tears temporarily wash allergens out. Antihistamine drops alleviate itchy eyes. Oral antihistamines can reduce itchiness, but can dry out eyes. Decongestant drops, labeled as “red eye relief,” will initially decrease redness, but dry out eyes and increase redness long-term. If none of these works, ask your optometrist about mast cell stabilizer drops, or for chronic and severe cases, corticosteroids.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends all eye allergy sufferers visit their eye doctor. Eye allergies don’t usually harm your eyesight, but there are some rare conditions such as eczema that can. Since there are so many options to treat eye allergies, it is best to have your eye doctor diagnose the problem and discuss the right treatment for you.