Whether it’s itching, burning, or redness, eye irritation is just that — irritating. Understanding what’s causing your symptoms can help you calm the redness and get back to seeing clearly. We’ve outlined the difference between pink eye and allergies, two common causes of eye irritation.
Cause: Virus or bacteria
Symptoms: Pus and mucus, burning, sore, redness
Where: Starting in one eye, potentially spreading to both
When: Year round
The biggest difference between pink eye and allergy is the pus and mucus that can gather in the eye. The infection will start in one eye, and potentially move to the other eye, which is also unique to pink eye.
If you suspect you have pink eye, you’ll want to visit your doctor. They will determine if the infection is due to a virus or bacteria and give you treatment options based off of that. Oftentimes antibiotics or eye drops are prescribed, and once they run their course, the infection is cleared.
Cause: Airborne allergens
Symptoms: Itching, watering, puffy, redness
Where: Both eyes
When: Allergy season
For those with allergic rhinitis, itching and scratching can occur in the eyes, just like it does in the nose. When airborne allergens circulate through the air and come in contact with your eyes, your body tries to fight back against the unwanted contact. Histamine is released, and that’s when symptoms occur.
Antihistamines or antihistamine eye drops can help cover the symptoms, but they will reoccur every year when your bothersome allergy is in bloom. An allergy test is a great way to determine what allergens cause your symptoms. Sublingual immunotherapy is an ideal way to help treat your eye allergies. In addition, you can make lifestyle changes based off of your identified allergens, like closing your windows during peak season, running an air purifier, or avoiding certain outdoor areas.
By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices