What You Should Know About Itchy Eyes

(Photo Credit: Howshealth)
(Photo Credit: Howshealth)

There are times when our eyes suddenly gets itchy; and worse is when they turn red and watery, too.   And we can’t help, but  rub them instinctively, sometimes frantically, too.  Right?

Well,   DON”T!  It is highly discouraged!

The reason is that as we rub our itchy eyes, we tend to release more and more HISTAMINES (a chemical found in some of the body’s cells) which then acts on our eyes and cause allergy symptoms.  Likewise, rubbing our eyes could damage, scratch or cause other trauma to the surface of our eyes; so we better beware.   After consulting our doctor, we are instructed to take  ‘antihistamine’ medications which are intended to help fight the symptoms caused by the release of histamine during an allergic reaction. Antihistamines block the release of histamines, which causes the itchy eyes. (Now you know why its called ‘antihistamines!)

*  But why do we get itchy eyes in the first place?

You see, when we are allergic to certain substances like some kinds of food, dust or other particles, our immune system mistakenly believes this usually harmless substance to be actually harmful to us and it automatically attempts to protect our  body.   Our immune system then starts a chain reaction which prompts some of our body’s cells to release histamine and other chemicals into our bloodstream.   As a result, the histamine may then act on our   eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, or gastrointestinal tract,  and thereby cause allergy symptoms which we find so discomforting and irritating.

Allergic reactions usually occur when the surface of our eye is suddenly exposed to allergens (referring to any substance that can cause an allergy).  More often than not, itchy eyes are often a symptom of allergies or what is otherwise known as Allergic Conjunctivitis, which have two types:

  • Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis, which is more common during the spring and fall and is due to the exposure of certain allergens like weeds, trees, grass, and pollen.
  •  Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis which may occur all year long and may mostly be possible due to  exposure to household allergens such as dust, mold,  pet hair and pet dander.
 Blepharitis and Dry Eyes  can be associated with itchy eyes, too.
* You might have Blepharitis, a common eye disorder,  if your eyelids are inflamed and causes it to be red, irritated, and itchy; and sometimes formation of dandruff-like scales on your eyelashes are noticeable.  Blepharitis is caused by either bacterial or a skin condition which is more commonly  known as dandruff of the scalp or acne rosacea and may affect people of all ages; however, though uncomfortable, the good news is that blepharitis is not  contagious and generally does not cause any permanent damage to eyesight.
*  The Dry Eyes syndrome is a condition wherein the eyes do not produce enough tears or the right quality of tears to be healthy or comfortable.
*How to prevent having itchy eyes
The tips are simple and easy:   Keep your house and place of work as clean as possible; no dust, molds and smoke.    Keep yourself clean and far from allergy by wearing gloves and masks when you do house chores or yard work  Be sure to avoid all possible allergens .
If you have blinking watery eyes and the itchiness persists, and you have no known allergies, be sure to contact your eye care professional as soon as possible to prevent eye damage and discomfort.
*How  can  itchy eyes be treated 
Oral Antihistamines and eye drops with antihistamines and decongestants are the usual prescriptions given by our doctor.   However, do not self-medicate.  Some oral antihistamines may cause drowsiness, irritability and dryness.  The severity of cases may have different doses and instructions.  It’s always better to consult your doctor first before applying any medication on those itchy eyes of yours!
Web Sources:
http://www.eyehealthweb.com/problems/itchy-eyes.html

http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/allergies.htm

http://kidshealth.org/parent/asthma_center/words_know/histamine.html