NBC NEWS — An allergic reaction could leave eye allergy sufferers with a nasty infection, and one that has the potential to affect vision.
Uncomfortable and unsightly eyes are due to rampant allergic conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the clear covering of the eye.
Dr. Sandra Belmont says, "This is the worst allergy season in years. One in three of my patients have allergic conjunctivitis."
Belmont is a Clinical Associate Professor of Opthamology at NYU School of Medicine. She says doctors generally prescribe antihistamines or decongestants for this. The condition and treatment may last weeks or months.
Doctors say allergic conjunctivitis can make the eyes more susceptible to a bacterial or viral infection and these are treated with different medications. That's why a correct diagnosis is so important.
"Bacterial conjunctivitis can lead to a corneal ulcer and you can lose your vision,” says Belmont. “Viral conjunctivitis patients can also experience the virus invading the cornea and causing loss of vision."
Bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotics, and the viral form requires anti-viral medication.
Doctors say the best line of defense from the get-go: wash your face and hands as soon as you come in from outdoors, shower and wash your hair before going to sleep at night, keep your home dust free, and stay indoors.
Unless your allergies are triggered by mold, the best thing to do is to enjoy rainy days, when the pollen count is down.