Q. For eye allergy symptoms, what kind of treatment is available and which should I try first?
A. Cold compresses and lubrication can help alleviate some of your discomfort. Artificial tears won't address the cause of the problem, but they can be helpful in rinsing away allergens. If you wear contact lenses, use the disposable kind.
Whenever possible, avoid the allergen that causes your symptoms. However, avoidance is often easier said than done, especially when it comes to seasonal allergies. You can't really move away for 3 to 4 months at a time!
If you have ocular (eye) allergies, there are numerous therapies available beyond these first-line remedies. Topical eye antihistamines (prescription and over-the-counter) may give immediate relief. However, they can't be used with contact lenses in place.
Steroid nasal sprays may be useful for milder cases of eye symptoms related to nasal allergies.
Over-the-counter oral antihistamines can help as well, but may lead to dry eye problems.
See your allergist for testing to determine what is causing your eye allergies. Knowing exactly what you're allergic to can help you avoid the allergen as much as possible, and your allergist will develop a management and treatment plan with you. Allergen immunotherapy, or allergy shots, can't provide immediate relief, but typically work very well to control eye allergy symptoms.