Itchy watery eyes in winter: How Are Winter Eye Allergies Triggered?

How Are Winter Eye Allergies Triggered?

Do you suffer from sneezing and itchy, watery eyes, or a runny nose during the fall and winter months? You might think it’s just a common cold, but often, these symptoms are actually caused by seasonal allergies.  

It’s easy to assume allergies are only associated with spring pollen, but there are some allergens that can cause flare-ups in the winter, too. A few simple steps will help you to manage winter allergies and decrease or eliminate your suffering. 

Common Winter Eye Allergy Triggers and What to Do About Them

Winter allergens can cause hay fever, a reaction within the body’s immune system resulting from exposure to irritants in the air. Common symptoms include coughing or wheezing, headaches, sore throat, runny nose, irritated skin, and watery or red, itchy eyes. There are ways to spot these winter allergen triggers and take steps toward alleviating your symptoms.

Fireplace Smoke

Did you know that your fireplace could actually cause an allergy flare-up? The smoke produced by a fire, whether indoors or outside, is a common irritant, causing itchy eyes and sometimes, a sore throat.  

What to Do:

Be sure that your fire or fireplace is located where the air is well ventilated. Avoid sitting too close to a fire, and sit upwind of outdoor fires to reduce any reaction to the smoke. 

Pet Dander

Pet dander is a very common allergen, affecting 15-30% of sufferers. Pet dander flare-ups can be more severe in the winter since pets spend more time indoors with us, rather than outside in warmer weather. This results in considerably more dander around your home and in the air.  

What to Do:

Vacuum more often, try to keep your pets out of your bedroom and off of furniture, and be sure the groom your dog or cat regularly. 


Skin contact or inhalation of mold spores often results in an allergic reaction, especially for those who also suffer from asthma. Unfortunately, because mold thrives in warm, damp conditions, it can develop in many places inside your home, from food and plants to your shower or washing machine.

What to Do:

Try to keep your home well ventilated by opening the windows on more temperate winter days.  If you have plants in the house, keep only a few since plants often provide the perfect environment for mold growth. The same can be said for damp wood—it can be a breeding ground for mold, so keep it outside.

Dust Mites

Similar to mold, dust mite allergens can affect you more harshly during the winter months since we tend to spend more time indoors in the winter, with the windows closed tightly.  

What to Do:

Open the windows when possible, and vacuum more regularly. Be sure to use a vacuum that has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, since it is more effective at removing allergens.  Wash blankets and bedding that haven’t been used since last winter since it can accumulate a lot of dust. 


While some are simply sensitive to the coarse texture of wool, others develop an allergic reaction, resulting in mild, itchy skin to more severe reactions resulting in raw patches and blisters.

What to Do:

If you are sensitive to wool, choose higher grade knits that are less likely to have irritating chemicals. Or, avoid wool altogether to reduce your exposure to irritants. 

Still Suffering? Reach Out to Kelly Vision Center

If you are still suffering from fall and winter allergies, you may benefit from further testing. Kelly Vision Center can provide additional treatment options that will help ease your allergy symptoms.  



How to Winterize Your Eyes – Eye See Ravenswood

//in Blog /by David Richardson


Most of us see winter as the time for warm, cozy fires and hot cocoa. But for millions of patients with eye allergies, winter is an endless barrage of irritating symptoms.

Dr. Andrea J. Stein of Eye See Ravenswood knows how difficult winter eye allergies can be. That’s why she specializes in helping patients throughout Chicago, Illinois, find relief from their symptoms.

Read on to learn more about common winter allergy triggers and how you can prepare for them.

Seasonal allergies can damage your eyes

You may be familiar with the different types of eye allergies. One common type is perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC), which causes allergies year-round. Though the symptoms of PAC may be milder at times, they can lead to infections if you rub your eyes too much.

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis is another eye allergy that occurs year-round and gets worse seasonally. Unlike PAC, the symptoms can be severe and impair your vision.

These eye allergies can get worse during the winter, as your exposure to indoor allergens increases.

Indoor allergens

We all know how brutal winter can be in Chicago, and to avoid that bone-chilling cold, we spend more time inside. Although the warmth of indoors is a blessing for many, it’s a curse if you suffer from indoor allergies.

The most common indoor allergens that affect your eyes are dust mites, mold, and pet dander. Normally, these triggers don’t cause too many problems for your eyes. If they become airborne, your A/C removes them while it’s cycling fresh air into your home.

In the winter, you keep your heat system on to avoid freezing. The issue with this, though, is the lack of ventilation. Your furnace keeps fresh, cold air out and recycles the warm air in your home. As a result, the airborne allergens remain inside and cause unpleasant reactions.

Cold, dry air

Warmer seasons bring humidity, so the air outside has a lot of moisture. Winter air is cold and dry, and it can trigger dry, itchy, burning eyes.

Preparation for winter eye allergies

The sad truth is you can’t completely avoid your allergies, but you can arm yourself to reduce the severity of your symptoms. Dr. Stein recommends the following tips to help manage indoor allergens:

  • Use allergy-proof pillowcases and comforters
  • Wash your bedding often in hot water
  • Use a dehumidifier to control mold
  • Clean areas at risk for mold growth weekly
  • Shield your eyes when outdoors

If you have a pet, it can be a little tough to reduce your exposure to pet dander. Make sure to wash your hands after touching an animal, and try keeping your pets out of your room.

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    David Richardson2020-01-01 20:11:192022-09-16 20:13:03Winter Triggers Allergies Too: How to Winterize Your Eyes


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    Why eyes itch and what to do about it



    July 28, 2019

    In most cases, itching goes away on its own, but it is better to visit an ophthalmologist right away.

    When to see a doctor

    Ophthalmic surgeon Alexander Kulik advises calling an ambulance or going to an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if itching in the eyes is accompanied by one of these signs:

    • sudden loss of vision or its sharp deterioration during the day;
    • Loss of half of the visual field or appearance of a dark spot in front of one or both eyes at once.

    Alexander Kulik

    ophthalmologist-surgeon, candidate of medical sciences, highly qualified doctor, consultant of the Teledoctor-24 service

    These symptoms can indicate not only dangerous eye diseases, but also diseases of the brain and nervous system.

    Also see a doctor immediately if you have injured your eye.

    Why do eyes itch

    Here are the main eight reasons.

    1. Allergy

    Occurs as a response of the immune system to foreign substances. Most often, the eyes itch with seasonal allergies, which are caused by plant pollen. There are other reasons: dust, pets, insects, food, drugs and other chemicals.

    As a result, the eyelids and conjunctiva (the membrane that lines the eyelids and part of the eyeball) swell, redden and itch. Your eyes water and you feel a burning sensation. There is also sneezing and runny nose.

    What to do

    See an ophthalmologist or an allergist for an allergy medication. To avoid unpleasant symptoms, try not to come into contact with the irritant:

    • Keep windows closed during flowering and avoid going outside.
    • Do not eat foods that cause allergies.
    • Moisten as often as possible.
    • If pets are causing allergies, walk them several times a day. Avoid touching them and wash your hands after each contact.

    2. Air pollutants

    Some people are sensitive to smoke, exhaust fumes, dust or even certain perfumes. Pollutants cause irritation upon contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, which causes the latter to water, itch and burn.

    What to do

    Alexander Kulik recommends rinsing eyes with Miramistin antiseptic and consulting an ophthalmologist. Avoid contact with irritants whenever possible.

    3. Conjunctivitis

    This inflammation of the conjunctiva is caused by viral or bacterial infections, chemicals or foreign objects. The eyes with conjunctivitis are red, itchy and watery, it seems to a person that sand has got under the eyelids. In the morning it is difficult to open them because of the sticky crusts.

    Red eyes with conjunctivitis / health.com

    What to do

    Instill miramistin and see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Only a doctor will determine the cause of conjunctivitis and prescribe the correct treatment.

    4. Dry eye syndrome

    The disease occurs due to a lack of tears that moisturize and nourish the cornea, so the eyes become red, itchy and you feel a burning sensation. Viscous mucus accumulates under the eyelids, it seems that a mote has fallen under them, it is unpleasant for a person to look at the light. Often vision deteriorates.

    Dry eye syndrome appears if:

    • few tears are produced, for example, after laser surgery or taking hormonal drugs, as well as in diabetes and other diseases;
    • tears evaporate too quickly: when working at a computer, when turning or turning the eyelids;
    • there are factors such as wind, smoke, dry air.
    What to do

    See an ophthalmologist if you notice these symptoms. He will determine the specific cause of the syndrome and prescribe treatment. To relieve symptoms, wash your eyes with warm water and soap two to three times a day and instill Miramistin.

    5. Visual fatigue syndrome

    The organs of vision get tired due to prolonged and intense strain – when reading or working at a computer. In addition to itching, pain and burning in the eyes, a person complains of double objects, fear of light, pain in the head, neck or shoulders.

    What to do

    As a rule, this condition disappears immediately after rest and does not require additional treatment. These tips will help you avoid eye fatigue:

    • Use the screen or print media in good light.
    • Take breaks as often as possible. Take a few seconds off, blink and look into the distance.
    • If possible, limit the amount of time you use the monitor.
    • Use eye drops with artificial tears.
    • Use special computer glasses.

    If these recommendations do not help, see an ophthalmologist.

    6. Contact lenses

    If you wear them continuously or care for them incorrectly, it can lead to papillary conjunctivitis. At the same time, the eyes turn red, watery and itchy.

    What to do

    See an ophthalmologist as soon as possible, because in some cases you will need to change your contact lenses. Stop wearing them until the symptoms go away. To avoid this situation in the future, carefully follow the hygiene recommendations:

    • wash your hands with soap and water before handling lenses;
    • minimize lens contact with water and saliva;
    • limit the amount of time you wear lenses, be sure to remove them at night;
    • Treat lenses with lens solution before and after use.

    7. Blepharitis

    This is inflammation of the eyelids, which usually appears at the edge of the eyelids, where the eyelashes and sebaceous glands are located. The causes of the disease are many: blockage of the sebaceous glands, allergies, bacterial infection, eyelash mites and even dandruff. The eyes with blepharitis are reddened and swollen, they itch, watery, and there is a burning sensation. A person is afraid of bright light, it seems that sand has got under the eyelids. Eyelashes stick together in the morning and fall out easily.

    Blepharitis does not impair vision, but is difficult to treat and often becomes chronic and causes complications such as conjunctivitis, styes, corneal ulcers or scarring of the eyelids.

    Blepharitis eye / betanclinics.nl

    What to do

    Wash the affected eyelid with soap and water two to four times a day and put Miramistin in the eye. Avoid wearing make-up and contact lenses until the blepharitis is gone.

    To reduce inflammation, soak a washcloth in warm water and apply to the eyelid for five minutes. Do this two to three times a day.

    Alexander Kulik

    See an ophthalmologist if you haven’t noticed any improvement after two days.

    8. Barley

    This is an inflammation of the sebaceous gland at the edge of the eyelid, similar to a boil or pimple with a white dot of pus in the center. The disease is caused by bacteria that enter the eye with unwashed hands or contact lenses. In addition to itching, a person complains of soreness and swelling of the eyelid, watery eyes. Styes do not impair vision and usually go away on their own.

    Stye Eye / babycenter.com/

    What to do

    Keeping the eye clean is enough to keep the infection from spreading. To do this, wash the eyelid with warm water and soap two or three times a day and instill Miramistin. Do not wear contact lenses and go without makeup until the stye is gone. To relieve pain, two to three times a day, apply a washcloth soaked in warm water to the eyelid for five minutes.

    Visit an ophthalmologist if the condition does not improve after two days or the redness and swelling go beyond the eyelid.

    Read also 👩‍⚕️👁🚑

    • 11 tips for eye health
    • What to do if your eyes hurt
    • What to do if your eye twitches
    • What to do if something gets in your eye
    • Dry Eye Syndrome: 7 Causes and Treatments

    What to do if your eyes itch

    Before you take any action to eliminate itching, you need to find out why it happened. The reason why the eyes itch or both can be both local and general.

    The most common causes:

    1. The ingress of foreign bodies – dust, specks, small insects, even improperly selected lenses can act as such. With the disappearance of the irritant from the eye, the itching gradually disappears;
    2. Eye burns from ultraviolet radiation – often the factor that causes itching and pain in the eyes is ultraviolet radiation. You can harm your eyes not only on a beach vacation – enough reflected sunlight from the glaring surface of the water. In addition, you can get a retinal and cornea burn not only in summer, but also in winter, when freshly fallen clean snow outside reflects light ten times more than normal;
    3. Swimming in untested open water or poorly cleaned pools – swimming in chlorinated water can cause itching around the eyes. Pathogenic forms of damage to the eyelids are more likely to occur from swimming in open water, especially during the hot summer months in conditions of blooming water, when it acquires a greenish tint from actively breeding algae. And along with them, chlamydia also feel great. Especially rapid development of such microflora is observed in stagnant water bodies: ponds, lakes, especially small ones, where amphibians live together with fish.
    4. Allergic reaction – anything can act as an allergen: tobacco smoke, plant pollen, inappropriate mascara, pet hair, window cleaner, etc. An allergy can be diagnosed if the eyes are not only itchy, but also watery, plus rhinitis is observed. With allergies, the eyes swell, redden, open painfully, photophobia begins;
    5. DES or dry eye syndrome – this phenomenon is observed in many who are associated with prolonged sitting at a computer or laptop screen. Older people suffer from dry eye syndrome due to dysfunction of the lacrimal glands. The disease worsens if a person is in an excessively dry or smoky room. You can get rid of unpleasant sensations by using preparations with artificial tears, periodically ventilating the working room, conducting gymnastics sessions for the eyes;

    Important! Often a simple exercise helps to cope with the syndrome – close your eyelids and relax, make five circular eye movements clockwise and five counterclockwise. Repeat three to five times.

    6. Blockage of the tear duct – burning in the eyes and their dryness can lead to blockage of the tear ducts caused by fine dust or burning particles entering the eyes during prolonged atmospheric smoke. To get rid of unpleasant symptoms, try with clean fingers for several seconds to press the points located at the inner corners of the eyes closer to the bridge of the nose. And only if this does not help, and the tears do not start to go, you need to see a doctor;
    7. Unsuitable lenses or wearing them incorrectly – in this case, it will help to remove the lenses and rinse the eyes with running water, if after a few hours the irritation has disappeared, and when the lenses are reused, the situation recurs, then it is necessary to consult an ophthalmologist to check the organs of vision and, possibly, to select new contact lenses;
    8. Communicable diseases:
    a. Conjunctivitis – it can be caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria – of the latter, chlamydia infection is the most unpleasant. Therefore, it is defined as a polyetiological lesion of the mucous membranes of the sclera and the inner surface of the eyelids. Most often one eye is affected, only then the inflammation of the conjunctiva passes to the second, most often this happens after the diseased organ was touched by hands, and then the healthy one was rubbed, after which the pathogenic microflora gets there.
    b. Blepharitis is a disease similar to conjunctivitis, but more characteristic of inflammation of the entire thickness of the eyelids, especially in the region of the ciliary edge. An allergic form of blepharitis can appear from exposure to animal hair, cosmetics incompatible with skin type or even blood type, exposure to plant pollen, drugs and hygiene products. Therefore, during treatment, it is often necessary to consult an ENT specialist, dentist, dermatologist and even endocrinologist.
    c. Barley is a purulent inflammation near the ciliary bulb or the sebaceous sac of Zeiss. The symptoms of the disease are as follows: the edges of the eyelids become inflamed and swollen, redden and cause pain when combed. In the vast majority of cases, barley is caused by Staphylococcus aureus, which is typical for an organism weakened by colds with a weak immune system. Dry, heated to 40-45 degrees, compresses help well.

    1. Let your eyes rest first! Temporarily exclude from your schedule long work at the computer or with a smartphone and watching TV;
    2. If you are sure of the origin of eye irritation, then stop contact with the pathogen;
    3. If special medicines or prophylactic eye drops are not available, it is necessary to make lotions using cosmetic sponges soaked in strong brewed black tea and hold for 10-15 minutes;
    4. Fresh chamomile tea prepared in a water bath may be used. Chamomile can be both flower and pharmacy;
    5. Applying swabs soaked in freshly brewed calendula to the eye sockets will also help relieve irritation.
    6. If itching is caused by dry mucous membranes and skin around the eyes, fresh cucumber slices will help, which should be applied for 30 minutes 2 times a day.