Oral & Vision Health Blog

Why are my eyes red, itchy and watery?

 You woke up again this morning with red, itchy and watery eyes. To make matters worse, you are sneezing and sniffling. You backtrack in your mind, trying to figure out the cause but you don’t recall being around anyone who had the flu. So, why on earth are you going through the day, rubbing red, itchy eyes and having tears run down your face at the most awkward times? Then it dawns on you--it’s September and we have entered fall. For some, it’s the beautiful time of year where the temperature begins to cool and leaves begin to change into vibrant colors. But for you, it’s also allergy season: that time of year when the things that irritate your eyes the most are all around.

If your red, itchy eyes are due to seasonal allergies, the best way to survive these next few months is to learn more about what causes seasonal eye allergies, the signs of it and get some tips to help you find relief or lessen the impact. 


Grass, Weeds and Tree Pollen

While pollen is a genius way for plants to reproduce, it may be at the heart of your itchy eyes.  Pollen producers include:  

A. Weeds and Grasses: What is more common than weeds and grass? They are everywhere! Pollen produced by weeds like ragweed and these other sources can literally make you tear up:

  • Lamb’s quarters
  • Pigweed
  • Tumbleweed

B. Trees: We have a special, love/hate relationship with trees. While we love them for giving us a life-giving gas called oxygen, we cry sometimes about that other gift they give called pollen. Trees known to contribute to the pollen population include: 

  • Birch
  • Cedar
  • Oak 

Mold Spores

Another allergy trigger is mold spores. What are mold spores? Mold is a fungus; they are inside our homes, outside under piles of leaves, on rotting logs and other places. We all inhale it at one point or the other but most are not harmful. Spores are the seeds of mold. They float around in the air when it gets windy and dry outside, causing an allergic reaction in some people. Three types of mold spores are:  

  • Blastomyces – this mold lives in areas of the US and Canada where there’s moist soil
  • Cryptoccus gattii – this lives in tropical and subtropical soil in the US Pacific Northwest and British Columbia
  • Histoplasmosis – this mold is associated with large amounts of bat and bird droppings



An allergic reaction, in essence, is your body fighting off something it believes is possibly damaging. The conjunctiva, the membrane that covers your eye balls and the inside of your eye lids, can become inflamed from mold and pollen and basically fight to protect itself. The result of the struggle is:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Swelling of your eye lids



Unless you plan to live in a bubble, there’s no way to get away from seasonal allergies that affect your eyes. So, your best bet is to find ways to lessen the impact. Some quick tips to find relief throughout this season are:

  • Shut it: Shut your doors and windows, especially when there’s a lot of pollen in the air
  • Shade it: Put on shades or regular glasses to keep pollen out of your eyes
  • Control it: Control mold by using a dehumidifier

Other ways to address your symptoms include using oral antihistamines, artificial tears and certain types of eye drops. However, to find the solution that works best for you, be sure to utilize your vision insurance and make an appointment to speak with your optometrist. Your physician and or allergist will also be a great place to seek guidance.  

Part of what makes itchy, watery, red eyes scary is when you don’t know what’s causing it. And since many of us have a tendency to jump to the worse conclusion, it causes a lot of stress. However, life looks different when you realize that the season you’re in can affect your vision. When you are aware of the season, then you know what to expect and how to prepare.


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