Red, swollen and itchy eyes: helpful tips

Red, swollen and itchy eyes: helpful tips

Could an allergy be the cause of my red swollen and itchy eyes?

Exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mould can trigger a condition known as
allergic conjunctivitis in some people, which causes various eye symptoms including:

  • Redness in both eyes
  • Itching and burning of the eyes and surrounding tissues
  • Watery discharge often accompanied by short‐term discomfort with bright sunlight
  • Swollen eyelids

Allergic conjunctivitis often accompanies allergic rhinitis (hayfever) symptoms like a runny nose and sneezing.

Allergic conjunctivitis symptoms may occur all year round due to exposure to dust mites, indoor or outdoor moulds, animal dander and occasionally food and food additives, or could present seasonally due to airborne pollen from weeds, trees and grasses. Symptoms may also be caused by a contact allergy to cosmetics. While itchiness does suggest an allergic cause, similar symptoms may occur with other conditions like viral or bacterial conjunctivitis or even the presence of a foreign body in the eye, so it is always recommended that you consult your GP or eye specialist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

What can I do if I have an eye allergy?

If you are experiencing eye allergy symptoms, see your GP who may prescribe or recommend medications to treat the condition.

To reduce the risk of symptoms occurring in the first place it is recommended to try and identify what is causing the allergy and minimise contact with it.1 This could involve:

  • Dust mites: Covering mattresses and pillows with dust mite resistant covers and washing sheets and pillow cases in very hot water weekly.
  • Mould: Ensuring adequate ventilation, sealing leaks in bathrooms and roofs and removing indoor pot plants.
  • Pollen: Checking the pollen forecast and trying to stay indoors when pollen counts are high, on windy days or after thunderstorms, and avoiding activities that can cause exposure to pollen like mowing the lawn.
  • Pet dander: Removing pets from the home if allergies are severe or disruptive. If pets only cause minor problems at least keep them out of the bedroom and living areas.