The Differences Between Eye Allergies and an Eye Infection
Irritated red eyes are an annoying condition to go about your day with, but could it be a sign of something more serious? It’s hard to tell the difference between eye allergies and an eye infection because of their similar symptoms. Here is some information you can use to differentiate the two and help you get proper treatment.
Despite its name, seasonal allergies can affect you year round. Allergies occur when your immune system negatively reacts to a foreign substance (such as pet hair, pollen, and dust) and releases histamine to fight off the allergen. They’re fairly common, and can be triggered differently from person to person. Some symptoms are redness, itchiness, irritation, burning, and clear, watery discharge.
Common Eye Infections
Eye infections occur when harmful microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi and viruses) affect the eyeball. One of the most common and contagious eye infections is conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pinkeye. This infection targets the conjunctiva and gives the whites of your eyes a pink tint. It can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or allergic reactions, and you can easily contract it if you have a cold. Another common infection is keratitis, which affects your cornea and can be caused by bacteria or virus. Symptoms of eye infections can include redness, itchiness, irritation, pain, burning, tenderness, sensitivity to light, and thick discharge, which can be a sign of bacterial or viral infection. .
What to Do for Allergies
The biggest thing you can do to avoid allergies is to stay away from allergens you know affect you, especially during allergy seasons. To treat allergies, topical medications and general allergy remedies can help. Allergy eye drops and prescribed medications can help reduce inflammation and discomfort.
What to Do for Infections
Viral infections can be treated with cold compresses and eye drops/artificial tears. Bacterial infections are a bit more tricky and may need prescribed antibiotic eye drops. But if you suspect you may have an eye infection, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible, as they can suggest the proper treatment and medication to help you. Home remedies and self-diagnosis can only go so far, and can worsen your condition if it delays effective treatment.
Even though they have many of the same symptoms and can be caused by similar things, eye infections and allergies are two very separate things and require different treatments. If you have concerns, contact your doctor to determine whether you have an allergic reaction or a more serious eye infection.
Do you have any questions? Contact Olympus Eye Associates for more information about eye allergies and eye infection treatments. We’re happy to help!