Allergic eye symptoms

General information

Allergic eye symptoms may be your only allergic symptom. Eye symptoms are usually associated with a runny nose and, more rarely, asthma symptoms. Your eyes are itchy, red, watery and producing discharge and your eyelids may be swollen. Your eyes may also be sensitive to light.

Conjunctivitis is the most common of allergic eye symptoms. It is caused by allergens in the environment, such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites or mould spores, and can be seasonal or constant. Some allergies are caused by cosmetics, nickel or topical eye drops. Allergic eye symptoms are also associated with atopy.

In minor cases, the eyesight is usually not affected. The aim is to treat the infection at an early stage to avoid further problems that may damage eyesight and cause dry eyes.


Antihistamine tablets available at pharmacies without prescription are usually effective. You can also use antihistamine drops or eye drops for allergic symptoms. The pharmacy staff are happy to help you choose the right type of medication.

When should you seek medical advice?

You should seek medical advice if

  • your eyesight is affected or if you have pain in the eye area.
  • the symptoms persist after a few days of self-care.

Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this may cause an infection. An infected eye has discharge and looks watery and red. It may feel there is a foreign body in the eye and the eye may feel itchy. The eyelids may also become swollen. If your symptoms point to an infection inside the eye, the eye socket or the cornea, you should seek medical advice.

This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto

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Updated  5.6.2020