Eye Allergy

Main Symptoms

  • Itchy eyes with frequent rubbing
  • Increased tearing (watery eyes)
  • Red or pink eyes
  • Mild swelling of the eyelids
  • No discharge or a minimal sticky, stringy, mucus discharge
  • No pain or fever
  • Main Causes: pollen or other allergens (e.g. cats)

See More Appropriate Topic

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Sacs of yellow fluid on whites of eyes or inner lids
  • Eyelids are swollen shut (or almost)
  • Pus on eyelids that’s not cleared after taking allergy medicines for 2 days

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Eyes are very itchy after taking allergy medicines for 2 days
  • Diagnosis of eye allergies never confirmed by your doctor

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild eye allergy and you don’t think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Eye Allergy

  1. Wash Off Allergens: First wash the pollen off the face.
    • Use a wet washcloth to clean off the eyelids and surrounding area.
    • Rinse the eyes with a small amount of warm water (tears will do the rest)
    • Then apply a cold washcloth to the itchy eye
    • Wash the hair every night because it collects lots of pollen.
  2. Antihistamine/Vasoconstrictor Eye Drops
    • Usually, the eyes will feel much better after the pollen is washed out and cold compresses are applied. If they are still itchy or bloodshot, instill antihistamine/vasoconstrictor eyedrops (no prescription needed). Use 1-2 drops every 8-12 hours as needed. Avoid continuous use for more than 5 days.
  3. Oral Antihistamines: If these measures aren’t effective, your child probably also has hay fever (i.e., allergic symptoms of the nose and eyes). Give your child an oral antihistamine which should relieve both symptoms. (See Dosage table chlorpheniramine products) Continue it until pollen season is over.
  4. Contacts: Children with contact lenses may need to switch to glasses temporarily. (Reason: to prevent damage to the cornea)
  5. Expected Course: If the allergic substance can be identified and avoided (e.g. a cat), the symptoms will not recur. Most eye allergies continue through the pollen season (4 to 8 weeks).
  6. Call Your Doctor If
    • Itchy eyes aren’t controlled in 2 days with continuous allergy treatment
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor Now” symptoms