Allergy Relief: Soothing Swollen Eyes

When you are cleaning your dusty basement or are out in the fresh air, you may experience allergy symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and a stuffy or runny nose. However, some people may also experience swollen eyes and these can be a result of eye allergy.

Swollen, red, itchy or watery eyes may occur due to eye allergies and this happens when your eyes come in contact with airborne allergens like pollen, moulds, indoor moulds and pet dander. When these allergens hit your eyes, they dissolve in your tears and have direct contact with the lining of your eyes. Allergens then react with antibodies in your cells and the antibodies release histamine which can cause nasal congestion and swollen eyes.

This article will highlight the symptoms, types and treatment of eye allergies.

Symptoms of Eye Allergy

Eye Allergies also known as allergic conjunctivitis usually affect both eyes. These allergies may make your eyes sensitive to light and cause many other symptoms making your vision blurry. The symptoms of eye allergies are −

  • Red and irritated eyes

  • Itchiness in the eyes

  • Tearing or runny eyes

  • Swollen eyelids

  • Burning, pain or soreness in the eyes

These symptoms are often accompanied by a stuffy or runny nose and sneezing.

Types of Eye Allergies

Eye allergies can be categorised into two types which are seasonal and perennial. Usually, the symptoms of eye allergy strike when you go out on a windy day or are in a dusty room. If you understand the type of eye allergy, it would make the treatment process easier.

  • Seasonal allergies − Triggers of these allergies are often airborne like pollen from grasses, trees, weeds or spores from moulds. These allergies may happen at a certain time of the year like early spring through summer and into autumn when the pollen count is more in the air.

  • Perennial allergies − These allergies may happen year around and may cause due to a variety of reasons. Some of the major causes include dust mites, feathers and animal dander. Additionally, smoke, air pollution, chlorine and certain perfumes, cosmetics or medicines may cause perennial eye allergies

Swollen eyes or other symptoms of eye allergies can be treated at home or may require medical attention. If at-home remedies do not help soothe your eyes, you may have to consult a doctor and seek medications.

Tips to Ease Swollen Eyes

Swollen eyes can be treated at home if the symptoms are not severe. For soothing relief for swollen eyes, you may consider the following home remedies −

Wash and Rinse Your Eyes

Washing your face can wash away the allergens that stick to your skin and eyelashes. This may combat itchy and swollen eyes. Also, you can rinse out your eyes with the help of water. Rinsing may loosen the allergens from inside your eyes and flush them out.

Cold Compress

Applying cold compresses around the eyes can help ease itching and swelling. You can soak a towel or a washcloth in cold water and then lie down with the compress across your eyes. This will let the coolness spread through the eyes and reduce swollen eyelids. Alternatively, you can also refrigerate a damp cloth or an eye pillow and use them as cold compresses.

Eye Drops

Some over-the-counter eye drops may soothe itchy and swollen eyes but the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) cautions that using these eye drops for more than three days may increase irritating symptoms. An ophthalmologist can prescribe some antihistamine eye drops like Cromolyn (Crolom), Lodoxamide (Alomide), Nedocromil sodium (Alocril) and Pemirolast potassium (Alamast).

Moreover, Ketorolac (Acular or Acuvail) is another kind of eye drop that relieves itchy eyes typically in an hour. However, these eye drops can sting or burn at first. Loteprednol (Alrex, Lotemax) is a steroid eye drop that can treat severe and long-lasting eye allergies. But, they are usually used for a short time as they can cause serious side effects.

Oral Medications or Allergy Shots

In addition to certain antihistamines that may provide relief for milder eye allergy symptoms, allergy shots can also help. These allergy shots are a part of immunotherapy that can help to keep allergy symptoms under control. Flonase (fluticasone) is an over-the-counter (OTC) nasal spray that may relieve itchy and watery eyes and nasal congestion.

Try to Stay Indoors to Avoid Triggers

Weather conditions can play a vital role in eye allergies. A breezy day with a lot of pollen in the air can expose your eyes to allergens and trigger allergic symptoms. You should wear big sunglasses when you go out and keep the windows of your car closed when you go outside. Pollen counts are a maximum in the mid-morning and early evening. If you are indoors, close the windows and run the air conditioner to avoid pollen from entering your eyes.

Precaution to Avoid Allergens at Home

To limit your exposure to dust mites, you can use special pillow covers that keep allergens out. Wash your bedding frequently in hot water to wash off the allergens. Consider getting a new mattress if it is more than a few years old. Clean the flooring with a damp mop and replace your rugs and carpets from time to time if you have a pet. Rugs and carpets can trap and hold allergens and hence, should be replaced or washed frequently. You can also install hardwood, tiles or other flooring materials that are easy to clean rather than carpets or rugs.

Moulds may grow inside the home and to avoid that keep the humidity of your house in control. If you have a basement, use a dehumidifier and ensure to clean it regularly. You can clean your kitchen and bathrooms with a bleach solution to wash off allergens.


Swollen eyes can be treated at home with the help of self-help strategies, eye drops or OTC medications. However, if the swollen eyelids are accompanied by the symptoms like extreme pain in the eye, a distorted vision that gets worse, floaters in your vision, constant feeling like something is stuck inside your eye and inability to move your eye normally, consult your doctor immediately.

Updated on: 24-Mar-2023


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