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Preparing Your Eyes for Allergy Season

Allergies can be a real pain in the neck, but it’s not just your nose and throat that suffer during allergy season. Some people experience allergy-related eye symptoms such as redness, itchiness, and watering. And if you wear contact lenses, things can get even worse since allergens can get trapped against your eyes. So what can you do to prepare for the dreaded pollen season? Let’s take a look.

The Causes of Seasonal Allergies
Allergies are caused by an overreaction of our immune system to something harmless in the environment like pollen or pet dander. This triggers the release of histamine, which is a chemical messenger responsible for causing inflammation and other allergic reactions like sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes.

Eye-related allergy symptoms typically include redness, itchiness, and watering. Contact lenses can even trap allergens against the eye and make symptoms worse! Avoidance is key — try to stay indoors on dry days when pollen counts are high; use air conditioning with HEPA filters; wear sunglasses when outdoors; shower at night to remove pollen from hair and skin; regularly clean surfaces that collect dust; vacuum carpets frequently; keep windows closed when possible; keep pets out of bedrooms and limit their time outside during peak times of day; don’t smoke or come in contact with smokers; avoid rubbing your eyes as much as possible.
Staying well hydrated is one of the best things you can do during an allergy attack, along with eye drops (prescription or over-the-counter) that contain antihistamines, decongestants, mast cell stabilizers or corticosteroids to reduce swelling. Talk to your doctor about what type of eye drops are best for you.  

Preventing Allergies?
No matter how careful we are, it’s impossible to entirely avoid the pollen in the air during allergy season, but we can certainly minimize our exposure. Wear a face mask when mowing lawns or working outdoors where allergens will be present in large quantities. If you have pets that shed fur, consider keeping them away from areas where you spend a lot of time such as bedrooms or home offices. Taking preventive measures now will help ensure that your eyes remain healthy this allergy season—and beyond!
Allergy season doesn't have to be miserable if you're prepared! Taking steps now to reduce your exposure to allergens will go a long way toward protecting your eyes from irritation and discomfort this year. Remember – drink plenty of fluids, take any medications prescribed by your doctor (or recommended over-the-counter medication), stay inside on high pollen days (when possible), wear a mask outside when mowing or working outdoors – all these small steps will add up in helping protect your eyes from allergies this year!