Spring is here and with this change in season comes eye allergies. Many of us know too well the congestion and swollen, itchy eyes associated with spring eye allergies. The primary causes of these allergies are things we all come in contact with including pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander, to name a few.
Eye allergies, also known as “allergic conjunctivitis,” are like any other allergic reaction. They’re caused by the immune system’s release of histamine (which causes inflammation) to otherwise harmless stimuli noted above. For eye allergies, common symptoms include:
Soreness, burning, and pain
Red, irritated eyes
Tearing, runny eyes
Stuffy, runny nose
Here are several methods to reduce or eliminate these eye irritations, giving you a more enjoyable time outside during the pleasant spring weather ahead.
Reduce allergen contact
The best way to enjoy your spring and reduce the symptoms of spring eye allergies is to avoid the causes of the inflammation: allergens. There are several things you can do in your immediate environment to minimize your exposure:
Frequently cleaning your house or apartment, especially before spring “springs”
Keeping windows closed
Following local pollen levels online
Checking HVAC filters often
Reduce contact lens wear
Contact lenses can exacerbate eye-related allergy issues, so you may need to wear your glasses more frequently in the spring months. (It’s a great time to see your optometrist and check your glasses prescription too.)
Sunglasses offer so many benefits for eye health that you shouldn’t be surprised that they also help reduce the amount of allergens in the eye. It’s simple, sunglasses block airborne allergens from coming in contact with the eye. Also, the fact that many sunglasses are often exaggerated in size, more so than normal glasses, help to block even more than normal eyeglasses. Need your glasses to see clearly? Prescription sunglasses are readily available through your local optometrist.
Medicated eye drops
The use of medicated eye drops can help reduce seasonal eye allergy symptoms. Antihistamine and/or decongestant can bring redness and itchiness under control. Lubricating eye drops can also be helpful. Be sure to check your optometrist for which drops work best and to assure they’re right for you.
Cold therapy can help sooth redness and swelling associated with seasonal eye allergies. A soft, cold cloth works great. For best results, soak a towel under cold water, wring it out and place it over your eyes. The colder the better, so be sure to refresh the water as often as necessary.
Eye dryness is another characteristic of seasonal eye allergies. This is caused by a change in tear production associated with contact with allergens. This irritation occurs when airborne allergens come in contact with the eye. To alleviate this, it is recommended to rinse the eyes with saline when needed. These rinses can also mitigate the desire to rub your eyes due to the inflammation, which is important because the act of rubbing your eyes releases histamine, causing further redness and swelling.
Frequent face and hand washing
With most allergens coming in contact with the eye via the air, it’s important to know that they can also be washed into your face from your hands and hair. During allergy season, frequent washing reduces any residual allergens that affect the eye. These washings will reduce the amount of allergens on your skin and face, and will reduce the amount that find their way into your eyes.
If seasonal eye allergies are affecting you, call us to set up an appointment at 920 499-3102.
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