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Eye Allergy Quiz

Allergic conjunctivitis is the medical term for eye allergy. Many of the signs and symptoms of eye allergy are not specific, because they involve the classical signs of inflammation including heat, pain, redness, swelling, tearing, irritation, stinging, burning, and photophobia (light sensitivity). Symptoms tend to improve with cool, rainy weather and worsen in warm, dry weather. The true hallmark of eye allergy is itching that can be mild or prominent, and it may last from hours to days.

Covering more than half of all cases, seasonal eye allergy is the most common type of eye allergy. Perennial eye allergy persists throughout the year. Dust mites, animal dander and feathers are the most common allergens. Symptoms are similar to those with seasonal eye allergy, and most patients with the perennial condition experience seasonal exacerbations.

A basic understanding of the eye's immune response coupled with an integrated, stepwise diagnostic approach between your allergist and eye care professional will help you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Question 1
True or false: The majority of eye itching stems from eye allergy.

False. While eye (ocular) allergy, or allergic conjunctivitis, often includes itching, other things like dryness, debris or an unknown object in the eye, are also very common causes of itching and may imitate allergies.

Question 2
Which of the following is not a common cause of eye allergy?
a. Mold spores
b. Grass pollen
c. Cat dander
d. Perfumes
e. Dust

D. Perfumes – Eye allergy is most common in the spring with grass and tree pollen playing a major part in triggering symptoms, while other common allergies, such as dust mites, mold and cat can lead to year-round symptoms. Perfumes are common irritants for the skin, nose, lungs and eyes, but they do not cause symptoms through the common allergy mechanisms.

Question 3
Which of the following is not a major symptom of eye allergy?
a. Redness
b. Gritty, dry sensation
c. Itching
d. Excess tearing
e. Eye lid swelling

B. Gritty, dry sensation – Eye allergy may be somewhat different for each person. Itching, redness, increased tearing and watery discharge are hallmarks of the allergic response. A less common sign of more severe eye allergy is increased inflammation causing swelling of the eyelids or the sclera (the white portion of the eye). A gritty or dry sensation is more commonly caused by irritants or debris in the eye, or excessive dryness due to wind, sun or tiredness.

Question 4
Which of the following is/are appropriate treatments for eye allergy?
a. Nasal steroid sprays
b. Allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots)
c. Oral antihistamines
d. Ocular antihistamines
e. All of the above

E. All of the above – Topical and oral antihistamines are the most commonly used medications to treat eye allergy. Topical antihistamine solution brings quick relief and has been shown to be most effective at relieving symptoms. Nasal steroid sprays are a primary treatment for allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Using nasal sprays not only reduces the nasal symptoms commonly associated with this condition, but often brings relief to the eye symptoms as well. Allergy immunotherapy has been shown to provide long-lasting reduction in allergic symptoms for the nose, eyes and lungs.

Question 5
True or false: Individuals who wear contacts may use ocular antihistamines to treat their eye allergy.

True. If you wear contacts, it does not mean you cannot use topical antihistamines, but it may require some adjustments in how you administer it. The antihistamine solution should be administered at least 15-30 minutes before putting in your contacts. It may also require closer evaluation by a physician for excessive dryness and possible secondary irritation over the cornea.

Question 6
True or false: It is rarely worth the effort to have allergy testing to determine triggers for eye allergy.

False. Allergy testing, through skin prick tests or blood tests, can provide helpful information in knowing what your triggers are and avoiding some exposures, such as cats, dogs or molds, if they are triggers. Allergy testing also may direct the use of allergy immunotherapy, when warranted.

Question 7
Dry eye syndrome includes which of the following:
a. Excessive tearing
b. Inflammation
c. Unusual tear consistency or components
d. Increased blinking
e. All of the above

E. Dry eye syndrome is a very common condition for many people. Despite its name, the most common feature is nearly constant watering eyes. It is caused by a disturbance in the natural make-up of a person’s tears. That change leads to there being not enough lubrication of the eye surface, which then causes an increase in blinking to try and create more lubrication of the eye surface. The body then tries to keep the eye moist by producing a large amount of tears. Studies have shown that there is often inflammation that leads to the tear film changes. Another name for dry eye syndrome is tear film insufficiency. Changes in vision are not typical, but blurring is one of the most common visual problems for people with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome.

Question 8
What is the primary treatment choice for dry eye syndrome?
a. Saline lubricant drops
b. Ocular antihistamines
c. Ocular cyclosporine (Restasis)
d. Tear duct plug

A. Saline lubricant drops – In this case simple is best. Using a saline lubricant drop will keep the proper moisture balance and decrease the excessive tearing. Most people respond well to this treatment. Topical antihistamines are only likely to help in the case of itching. Many people try antihistamine solutions, suspecting they have an allergy, but these will not generally be helpful. In more severe cases, medications such as topical cyclosporine may help reduce the inflammation and help restore more natural tear production. Tear duct plugging is more likely to be used in cases when the body will not keep the eye moist enough and secondary damage to the cornea is likely. Cyclosporine and tear duct plugging are not early or first-line treatments.

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Learn more about eye allergy symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management.