This time of year, we have many patients coming into the clinic with itchy, watery eyes. The main cause is allergy season but other issues can cause these same symptoms.
If allergies are truly the cause, the quickest way to stop an itchy, watery eye would be a cold, damp compress over the closed lids. The pollen or allergen will rest on the lashes, irritating the eyelids and the eyeball. Cleaning the lids every morning and night with cold water will help prevent allergies from starting. We especially recommend doing this after mowing the lawn, working on the farm or in any dusty environment, or being outside during allergy season. Using chilled artificial tears like Refresh will help calm the eye and resolve the itching.
Changing your pillowcase more often will help. Washing your hair before you go to bed makes a big difference—the static electricity in your hair will attract thousands of allergens, which will exacerbate the problems. Taking an oral over-the-counter antihistamine will help with itchy eyes.
If these treatments are not enough, then try over-the-counter Pataday which is a topical antihistamine eye drop formulation. If there is still persistent itching, see your local optometrist for a possible soft steroid eye drop formulation which will help tremendously. Steroids are good for short-term use only, whereas Pataday drops can be used safely all season.
Remember that not all itchy eyes are related to allergies and other causes include a poor, thin tear film, blepharitis, rosacea, keratitis and other types of conjunctivitis. It is best to see your eye doctor and they will use a Biomicroscope to determine the exact cause so you can be given the right treatment from the start.