Photo credit: Luis Galves @louiscesar

Allergic conjunctivitis, or eye allergies, happen when the eyes react to something that irritates them. When the eyes try to defend your body from an allergen it triggers the release of histamine from mast cells. As a result, your eyes (usually the eyelids and conjunctiva) become red, swollen, watery, and itchy. You may also wake up in the morning with puffy eyes. People who have eye allergies commonly have nasal allergies as well which causes stuffy nose and sneezing. Both conditions are closely related to seasonal allergies.

What are symptoms of eye allergies?

The most common eye allergy symptoms include:

  • Itching and watery discharge (teary eyes)
  • Redness and puffy eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light

If it’s related to seasonal allergies then both eyes are usually involved. Unlike pink eyes, eye allergies do not spread from person to person.

What causes eye allergies?

Some of the common allergens include:

  • Household dust
  • pollen from trees and grass
  • pet dander
  • mold
  • Smoke
  • Chemical scents such as detergents or perfume

Allergic reactions to perfume, cosmetics or drugs can also cause the eyes to have an allergic response. Some people may have an acute allergic reaction to a new facial product or an eye drop.

Sometimes, the eyes can react to other allergens that don’t necessarily come in direct contact with the eye. These can include specific foods or insect bites or stings.

Most allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with oral or over the counter antihistamine medication, anti-allergy eye drops, or steroid eye drops.

However, not all red and itchy eyes are caused by allergic conjunctivitis. Some people may think they have an eye allergy but in fact they have dry eyes or other types of inflammations. It is important for you to visit your eye care provider to get the proper diagnosis and treatment for your problem.

To improve your overall eye health during these difficult times, it is important to take care of your diet. In the average American diet, there is an excessive amount of omega-6 which we get from processed food. The body’s inflammatory response is impacted by the amount and balance of omega-3 to omega-6 in the cell membrane. To balance that out, it is important to incorporate more fish, such as salmon, arctic char, rainbow trout, tuna, and sardines into our diet. We recommend 3-4 servings of cold-water fish weekly. For vegans, algal oil, flax, chia, hemp, walnut, and avocado are great alternatives.

Source: Eyelab, Doctors of Optometry

Research has shown that the increase of omega-3 intake is beneficial to your ocular health and improve the symptoms of dry eye disease. However, not all omega-3 supplements are made equally. In order to choose the best omega-3 supplements, it is important to consider absorption and purity. Firstly, it is important to consider absorption as there are types of omega-3 that are better and more efficient. It is suggested that omega-3 supplements in the triglyceride form are easier and better for absorption compared to the ethyl ester form. Triglycerides are made of three fatty acids (such as DHA and EPA) with a glycerol backbone, whereas ethyl esters are one fatty acid attached to one ethanol molecule. A big difference is that ethyl esters are made artificially, whereas triglycerides are found in many things in nature, hence there are different chemical properties provided between the two. Most of the omega-3 supplements in the market are in the ethyl esters form.

Before purchasing a fish oil supplement, consider the amount of omega-3 fatty acids EPA+DHA, the taste of the supplement, the source (ensure to look for sustainable sources such as sardines, anchovies, wild squid, mackerels, or vegetarian sources like algae), and whether its in the triglyceride form or the ethyl ester form. Likewise, purity should be a priority to ensure the omega-3 products do not come with unwanted pollutants or heavy metals.

At Eyelab, we offer both soft gel and liquid format of pure triglyceride omega-3 equipped for your personal needs. Book an appointment with us here to learn more about how we can help you with your dry eyes!