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Welcome to Allergy Season: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Eyes

For many people, spring is not only the season of rebirth and brighter days – it’s also the season of allergies.

Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, are a common occurrence in the fall and spring, although they can hit people year-round. Individuals who experience these allergies may experience red, swollen, teary, or itchy eyes and eyelids.

People with eye allergies may be allergic to:

  • Pet dander
  • Dust
  • Food
  • Pollen
  • Smoke

During the springtime, individuals with pollen allergies suffer the most. Thankfully, the intensity of these allergies tends to ebb over time. But what can you do until then?

Wear sunglasses and eyeglasses. To protect your eyes from the pollen outside, make sure to put on some sort of eyewear before you head out. One reason why the immune system reacts to pollen is because it gets into the eyes. By keeping it away from your eyes, you can avoid triggering an allergic reaction.

Watch out for high pollen counts. Most weather websites will tell you if there’s a large amount of pollen in the air at any given moment. Pollen counts are usually highest in the mid-morning and early evening.

Keep the windows closed. Fresh spring air smells amazing, but open windows can bring pollen into your home and car alike.

It’s difficult – if not impossible – to avoid allergens completely. If you’re struggling with eye allergies, here are some ways in which you can treat them. Do not rub your eyes, since this can make your symptoms worse.

Artificial tears can be used to add moisture to dry, irritated eyes, which may reduce some of the itchiness. They can also wash out allergens like pollen.

Oral antihistamines or anti-allergy drugs can sometimes relieve itchy eyes, although some people find that these drugs dry out their eyes and worsen their symptoms.

Steroid eye drops may be prescribed to you by a doctor if you have chronic or severe symptoms.

Decongestant eye drops reduce redness, but shouldn’t be used for more than two to three days since their effect can wane over time.

Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, can be administered to patients whose symptoms don’t resolve with eye drops or other medications. These injections contain a small amount of the allergen to help promote immunity.

Although eye allergies are not dangerous for your eye health, many eye diseases have symptoms that resemble common allergies. Conjunctivitis, blepharitis, dry eye syndrome and Meibomian gland dysfunction are only a few of the conditions that mimic eye allergies. If your symptoms last for a long time or get worse, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor.

For information about how South East Eye’s comprehensive care can protect your eyes year-round, contact us today to set up an eye and vision examination.

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