Symptoms of Allergies in the Eyes

There are a variety of allergic symptoms which manifest in the eyes and it’s important to be able to identify them in order to know what steps to take next.

Allergic reactions can cause a variety of symptoms in the eyes, sometimes in addition to sneezing or hives. If it’s a mild to moderate allergic reaction, it can usually be treated at home. If the symptoms don’t go away, please schedule an appointment right away with our office. If the symptoms in the eyes present with other severe manifestations such as difficulty breathing, throat closing up, or loss of consciousness, this is an anaphylactic allergic reaction and you must call emergency services right away.

The main symptoms from allergic reactions in the eyes, include:

  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Itchiness or irritation
  • Acute red eye
  • Discharge from the eyes
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These symptoms will be discussed in greater depth as it is important to be able to identify typical symptoms in the eyes caused by allergies.

  • Swelling Around The Eyes
    People who experience swelling around the eye have inflammation or a build up of fluids that affects the eyelids and tissues surrounding the eye. This is a temporary condition and it differs from natural bags under the eyes caused by the aging process. Periorbital edema is the medical terminology that is used by eye doctors to describe the swelling of the skin around the eyes. If you are in doubt about what caused the swelling around the eyes and ruled out this symptom being a result of an allergic reaction that can be treated at home, it is advised that you book an appointment with our office immediately to get the best possible care. It is possible that the swelling around the eyes is caused by an infection which needs to be treated by your eye doctor right away. If you have swelling around your eyes along with fever and it’s painful to move the affected eye, please call our office to book an immediate appointment. If an appointment is not available, you will be guided where to get medical assistance right away. This could be an infection of the eye socket, known as orbital cellulitis, which must be treated immediately and properly in order to prevent serious complications.
  • Acute Red Eyes
    There could be many different causes for red eyes, including allergies. If red eyes present with other allergic symptoms, especially itchy eyes, then it’s very possible that the cause is from allergies. Other causes could include exhaustion, overwearing contact lenses, pink eye or other infections. There are more serious eye conditions which can cause red eyes such as uveitis or glaucoma but these often have a much more severe appearance than an allergic reaction. If the home treatments for allergies are not making the redness go away, please book an appointment with your eye doctor who can diagnose and treat the underlying cause.
  • Itchy Or Irritated Eyes
    If your eyes are red and itchy, you might want to rub them or wash them to relieve yourself from the itchiness. Itchiness in the eyes is a very characteristic symptom of allergies. It could be caused by other things such as a bacterial infection but it’s a very prominent symptom of an allergic reaction. There could also be general irritation with a burning or stinging sensation. If you do not find comfort with the home remedies, it is recommended that you book an appointment with our office. If the cause turns out to be a bacterial infection, your eye doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat it properly.
  • Discharge
    In an allergic reaction, there could be a watery or stringy discharge from the eyes. It is usually in both eyes, and not contagious in contrast to viral or bacterial infections.
Prevention and Treatment

Prevention and Treatment

The only way to prevent allergic reactions is if you identify the cause of the allergies and do your best to avoid the trigger. There are great treatment options which can be used at home:
  • Cold compress
  • Artificial tears
  • Eye drops with antihistamine

Common Questions

Periorbital swelling is a medical term for swelling around the eyes which is a temporary condition. This is different from bags which form under the eyes which is a natural part of the aging process. Periorbital swelling could occur in one or both eyes and it can be a gradual symptom which is considered to be chronic or it can happen suddenly, otherwise known as acute. There are various causes of swelling around the eyes, including allergies, but they all result from an excess build up of fluids.
Both pink eye and allergies can cause redness in the eyes. A very characteristic symptom in the eyes that is typical for an allergic reaction is itchiness. Allergies can also present with a mild stringy or watery discharge from the eyes. In contrast, pink eye is an infection that causes more significant discharge from the eyes and itchiness is not usually the main complaint in pink eye.
Eye doctors are highly trained experts who handle issues affecting the human eye. They can identify the cause of your eye allergies and prescribe medication to help reduce your symptoms, such as Antihistamine drops if you have a pollen allergy. One common misconception about eye allergies is that your oral antihistamine allergy medication will treat your symptoms. While sometimes they may be mildly effective, they can also cause the opposite effect and worsen your symptoms. If you are experiencing itchy or watery eyes from an eye allergy we recommend scheduling an appointment. Our optometrists at American Family Vision Clinic are happy to help you find relief for your eye allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of Allergies in the Eyes
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


There are certain symptoms in the eyes, such as redness, itchiness, irritation, swelling around the eyes which can be caused by a variety of reasons, including allergies. If it’s a mild or moderate allergic reaction it can be treated at home. If the symptoms still don’t go away then please schedule an appointment with our office at (360) 491-2121 so that the eye doctor can check you and provide a treatment plan.
If you or your loved one is experiencing an anaphylactic allergic reaction, please do not hesitate and call 911 right away.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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