Eye infections and allergies can have many of the same symptoms, such as red, itchy eyes, even though they have different causes and treatments. Here’s how you can tell the difference between an eye infection and allergies, when you need to see a healthcare provider, and the treatment options for both. For same-day treatment, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Hillsdale today!
Seasonal allergy symptoms and how they affect the eyes
Seasonal allergies are caused by allergens in the air. Pollen from plants such as ragweed can cause an allergic reaction, leading to symptoms in the eyes. Allergies can cause the eyes to show symptoms including redness, itchiness, dryness, burning sensation, and watering.
Animal allergies caused by pet dander in the air and on surfaces can also affect the eyes and produce the same symptoms as seasonal allergies. Although allergies are often easily recognized, you may need a doctor’s help to determine the cause of your allergies. Dust and mold can produce symptoms similar to seasonal allergies, and it is important to have a diagnosis in case you need to make an environmental change (such as having your home or workplace checked for mold).
Eye infection symptoms and causes
Unlike allergies, eye infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Eye infection symptoms can include many of the same symptoms as allergies, but they may include pain, light sensitivity, a thick or colored discharge, or a gritty feeling in the eye.
Essentially, if your eye symptoms go beyond the typical seasonal or pet allergy symptoms, you may have an infection. Eye infections can cause damage to the eyes and can be transmitted to others. It is important to recognize the difference between eye infections and allergy eyes so that you can seek treatment to avoid lasting damage and passing the infection to other people.
Treatment options for both
The most common treatments for allergies include oral and topical medications, including antihistamines pills or liquids, eye drops, anti-inflammatory medications, and more. These medications are intended for short-term use, so you only need to take them when symptoms are present. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help flush the eyes and keep them moist, alleviating most allergy symptoms.
Treatment for eye infections can vary and will depend on the type of infection you have. A virus may clear up on its own, while bacterial and fungal infections typically require antibiotics. A doctor will be able to diagnose the cause of your infection and prescribe the proper course of treatment.
If you are experiencing symptoms of an eye infection, or you’re not sure if it’s just allergies, schedule an appointment with an urgent care center. If it’s an infection, you need to treat it as quickly as possible to avoid lasting damage and prevent the spread of infection to other people.