Eye allergies often are hereditary, and occur due to processes associated with other types of allergic responses. When an allergic reaction takes place, your eyes may be overreacting to a substance perceived as harmful, even though it may not be. These substances are called allergens. For example, dust that is harmless to most people can cause excessive production of tears and mucus in eyes of overly sensitive, allergic individuals.
What Causes Eye Allergies?
Many allergens are in the air, where they come in contact with your eyes and nose. Airborne allergens include pollen, mold, dust and pet dander. Other causes of allergies, such as certain foods or bee stings, do not typically affect the eyes the way airborne allergens do. Adverse reactions to certain cosmetics or drugs such as antibiotic eye drops also may cause eye allergies. Some people actually are allergic to the preservatives in eye drops such as those used to lubricate dry eyes. In this case, you may need to use a preservative-free brand.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is the most common form of eye allergy, with grass and ragweed pollens being the most important seasonal triggers. Perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) is also very common. Animal dander, feathers, and dust mites are common triggers in PAC.