Seasonal allergies affect more than 35 million Americans each year and can have a tremendously negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. Tree pollens in April and May, grass pollens in June and July and mold spores and weed pollens in July and August add up to a five-month barrage of eye-irritating allergens.
The Eye’s Response to Allergens
Typically, eye-related allergy symptoms will include watering, redness, and itchiness, and there may also be a scratchy or gritty feeling, a burning sensation, swollen eyelids, and some discomfort wearing contact lenses.
Tips for Soothing Allergy Symptoms
- It’s very important to stay well hydrated during an allergy attack, and you can use eye drops to help with eye irritation (especially if you take an allergy medication that dries them out).
- It’s also a good idea to stick to glasses instead of contacts. Contacts can trap allergens against the eye and make symptoms even worse. Wearing glasses or sunglasses can reduce the chance of allergens entering the eye.
- No matter how much they itch, don’t rub your eyes! Instead, apply cold compresses and artificial tears called “lubricant eye drops” to flush the pollen from the eyes.
- Clear the air. Pollens can be removed from the environment by using air-conditioning filters designed to trap irritating allergens, which are available for both the home and automobile installation. Cleaning floors with a damp mop, instead of sweeping, keeps allergens that are brought into the home on feet and clothing from becoming airborne, this can aggravate symptoms. Fluff bed pillows or stuffed animals if slept with in the dryer for 15 minutes every 2-4 weeks.
- Shower before you go to bed. Showering and washing hair at night reduces the chance of prolonged and concentrated exposure to pollens while sleeping. Allergen-resistant pillows can be a tremendous help as well.
It’s not really possible to completely avoid all that pollen in the air, but there are ways we can minimize our exposure.
- Keep your windows shut and don’t use window fans that can blow the pollen into the house.
- It’s also a good idea to stay inside on windy days and wear a pollen mask while doing yard work.
- Even wearing sunglasses or regular glasses can offer some protection for your eyes.
- Purchase allergy-friendly bedding
Count On Your Optometrist
Whether you’re having eye trouble because of allergies or any other reason, we’re here to help. We want all of our patients to be able to enjoy the season, so give us a call if you’ve been dealing with itchy, runny eyes.
Wishing you a Happy Spring! From the entire Select Eyecare Team