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In the United States, statistics indicate approximately 20% of the population exhibit signs of allergies. Of this amount, about 50% have eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, a condition that affects millions of Americans. Like a few other kinds of allergies, eye allergies rarely stand alone. They are often associated with such conditions as hay fever and dermatitis.
This may make them appear to be a seasonal problem. It can also result in confusion, as the overlapping symptoms seem to indicate a different specific health problem. On your own, you may simply treat your hay fever and ignore any signs of another allergy – one that affects your eyes.
It does not help that the causal factors for eye allergies are similar to those found in hay fever and asthma. You can also simply have irritated eyes. These may result from coming into contact with an environmental irritant. This material could be in your cosmetics or cleaning products. Other medical conditions such as pink eye can produce symptoms similar to those of eye allergies.
However, it is not bacteria or irritants per se (though some individuals are allergic to such things as cigarette smoke and diesel exhaust) that causes allergic conjunctivitis. Eye allergies result from the exposure of your eye to substances that create an inappropriate response of your autoimmune system. The material that set off your reaction tends to be such things as mold spores, pet dander or pollen.
If you have eye allergies, your eyes will react in any of several ways. All will affect the eye and, therefore, your ability to see clearly. The five most common signs of eye allergies are:
If you suffer from any of these signs or symptoms, you may have an eye allergy. Before you undertake self-medication to treatment, talk to your doctor. If you do not consult a specialist, you may actually aggravate the condition rather than ease it.