Allergies and Itchy Eyes

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Itchy eyes can get in the way of your child’s school progress and daily activities.

Kids may not complain of itchy eyes, but you may notice them rubbing their eyes throughout the day. Sometimes their eyes can even start appearing red and puffy.

Itchy eyes can be a symptom of multiple conditions, ranging from allergies, dry eyes, anterior blepharitis to viral/bacterial conjunctivitis. The key to understanding why your child’s eyes are itchy is to make note of other associated factors and discuss them with our optometrist.

It is a good idea to think about the following:

  • When does my child complain of itchy eyes?
  • Is there any associated watering or discharge?
  • When does the itchy feeling get the worst?
  • What do I do to alleviate the itchiness?

Common Causes of Itchy Eyes

Allergic Conjunctivitis
Dry Eyes
Anterior Blepharitis
Viral Conjunctivitis
Bacterial Conjunctivitis
Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is the most common cause of itchy eyes in children. Allergies have long been associated with adverse skin reactions such as rashes and hives. However, the eyes are as commonly affected by allergies and this can be either seasonal or all year round.

If your child comes in contact with an allergen it can cause red, watery, itchy and sometimes even puffy eyes. There is often an appearance of marked red papillae on the inside of the lids that our optometrists can check for. It is more common in boys than girls and often seen after children have been playing outdoors or been in contact with an allergen.

In severe cases of allergies, a discharge in the form of mucus can be seen from the eyes. It is important to distinguish between mucus and pus discharge that’s associated with a bacterial infection. See our optometrist if your child has any type of discharge.

Children with keratoconus need to be particularly careful around allergy season, as rubbing the eyes can make both the keratoconus and allergies worse.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can often create a gritty itchy feeling. The lack of moisture leads to a feeling of sand in the eye. This can often result in a your child constantly blinking or rubbing the eye in an attempt to lubricate the eyes with tears.

Anterior Blepharitis

Anterior blepharitis is a condition that is commonly found in children. It causes stickiness, clumping and crusting of the eyelashes. It can also cause inflammation of the eyelids, giving rise to red eyelids.

Our optometrist will help identify whether your child has anterior blepharitis and we’ll talk about the treatment required.

Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis occurs more frequently in people who have just suffered from a cold, who have a weakened immune system from a previous virus, or who have come in contact with another person with viral conjunctivitis. Some of the typical symptoms of this form of conjunctivitis include itchy watery eyes.

Viral conjunctivitis causes a distinct redness in the eyes and follicles under the eyelids that our optometrist can check for. It is very contagious, and often infects both eyes.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

This form of conjunctivitis is differentiated from allergies or viral conjunctivitis by the pus discharge that develops with its occurrence. Often upon waking people will notice thick, purulent whitish discharge around the lids and lashes.

The itchiness felt in this form of conjunctivitis is also different from the aforementioned forms of conjunctivitis, as there is not so much a diffuse itchiness, rather a more localised itch. Many who experience it describe the feeling as a foreign body sensation in the eye.

Signs and Symptoms Your Child Has an Eye Allergy May Include…

  • Itchy eyes with frequent rubbing
  • Increased tearing (watery eyes)
  • Red or pink eyes
  • Mild swelling of the eyelids
  • No discharge or a sticky, stringy mucus discharge
  • No pain or fever

Why Should Parents Be Concerned?

It’s important for parents to be aware if eye itching is caused by an allergy to know which allergens triggered the reactions. The allergen could be a seemingly harmless everyday substance like a bite of egg, pet dander or dust particles.

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Allergies come in different forms that may disrupt your child’s daily activities: rash breakouts, sneezing due to swollen linings of the nose (if inhaled), diarrhea due to inflammation of stomach linings (if ingested), among others.

If your child has allergies, their quality of sleep may become interrupted and may result in fatigue carried over into the next day. This may affect your child’s mood, ability to concentrate and performance in the classroom.

Allergies in their mild form may cause some discomfort, but severe allergies may trigger allergic reactions that are not only uncomfortable but dangerous and require immediate medical reaction (e.g., difficulty breathing, hives, tightness in the throat, wheezing).

How Can We Help?

Thorough Confirmatory Tests

We’ll perform a thorough check on your child’s eyes to look for presence of conjunctival swelling, eyelid swelling and dilated blood vessels to confirm if the itching is caused by allergies or others.

Finding the Cause + Management

If it’s allergies, we’ll help you identify the source of your child’s allergy. Is it pollen, mold, house dust, pet dander, smoke, other? The first step in management is avoidance of the allergen. We’ll talk about how to keep your child away from what is causing their itchy eyes.

The Best Treatment Options

We’ll discuss treatment options to help your child get relief from the discomfort of red, itchy, watery eyes. This can be in the form of prescription allergy eye drops which are effective at reducing inflammation of the eye tissues.

Advise + Referral

We can also advise you if there is a need to bring your child to an Allergist for formal allergy tests or to an Ophthalmologist for a more intensive eye care.

Don’t ignore itchy eyes—they can ruin your child’s day! Let us help.

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