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Eye Allergy Season is Coming – Are You Ready?

Do you have red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes? If yes, it could be due to spring eye allergies. For some of us, March begins pollen season, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Seasonal eye allergies are largely due to the release of pollen from trees and flowers into the air and can cause a severe impact on quality of life for those that experience them.

What can you do to protect your eyes during allergy season? The first answer would be to limit contact with allergens by remaining indoors, in particular when the pollen count is high. Closing windows, using air conditioners and wearing full-coverage shades when going outside may also help to protect your eyes from irritants in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used filter allergens from the air when you are inside.

However, for those of us that can't stay indoors the entire spring season, certain medications can reduce symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes or watery eyes. Often times a basic over-the-counter eye drop is enough to moisturize and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out irritants. Products containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers will reduce irritation of the eyes as well as non-eye related symptoms such as stuffed or runny nose and sneezing. Drops often work more quickly and effectively than pills or liquid medications to treat eye symptoms.

Those who wear contacts often experience greater discomfort from eye allergies because allergens are more likely to enter the eye and stick to the outer surface of the lens, causing inflammation. Further, oral antihistamines can dry out the eyes, worsening the situation. Contact lens wearers are advised to make sure to ensure eyes are moist and switch lenses on time. Some eye doctors recommend the use of daily disposable lenses, since changing your contact lenses daily greatly diminishes the chances of buildup and irritation.

When your eyes are irritated, don't rub them. Doing so can just exacerbate the inflammation. Since some of the effective medications do require a prescription, if over-the-counter medications do not help, see your optometrist.