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Red, Itchy, and Watery Eyes? Could Be Allergies.

Allergies and Your Eyes

Allergic conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva (white part of your eye) caused by an allergic reaction. Common causes of allergic conjunctivitis are household dust, animal dander, pollen, mold spores, and chemicals found in detergents or perfume. Common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:

  • Intense itching of eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Mucus discharge
  • Swollen eyelids

As the seasons change, tree and grass pollen can cause some unwanted itchy eyes, runny nose, and nasal congestion. What can you do about the itchy and red eyes?

  • Over the counter (OTC) eyedrops
    • Alaway
    • Zaditor (safe for kids 3+ yrs)
    • Pataday
  • Cold compresses
  • Washing your face after exposure to allergens
  • Frequent washing of bedsheets and clothes
  • Shower before bedtime to wash off any allergens

Dry Eyes

Allergy eye drops can also dry your eyes out, so it is recommended to also use artificial tears as a lubricating drop after using OTC allergy eye drops. Some recommendations for those are:

  • Refresh Tears
  • Systane Complete
  • Blink
  • BioTrue Preservative-free lubricant eye drops

Things to avoid:

  • Rubbing your eyes
  • Going outdoors during peak allergy season
  • Irritants such as cigarette smoke, strong odors, or fire smoke


Q: I wear contact lenses. Can I use the eyedrops with them?

A: Do not put eyedrops in your eye while wearing contact lenses. After putting eyedrops in, wait 10 minutes before putting your contact lens in.

Q: Why is eye rubbing a bad thing?

A: Rubbing your eyes can damage your cornea. Having allergic conjunctivitis and eye rubbing can increase chances of corneal deformation by 37%. Eye rubbing not only induces mechanical damage to the cornea but can also promote production of inflammatory molecules, causing the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis to get worse.

Q: The OTC allergy eye drops are not completely resolving my issues. Is there anything else I can do?

A: We recommend calling our office (303-427-2020) for a medical office visit to tackle your problem. This office visit includes a thorough check of the health of your eyes to evaluate the level of your allergic conjunctivitis and for any underlying conditions that may be exacerbating your symptoms. In cases where OTC eyedrops do not work for moderate to severe allergic conjunctivitis, there are additional options that can be prescribed that is not available over the counter.