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Eyes and Allergies: Understanding, Preventing and Treating Seasonal Allergies

Spring is the time when people everywhere feel revitalized and energized as nature bursts back into life. It's a season where flowers bloom and trees start to bud, and the warmer weather and sunshine draws people outdoors. However, as the spring flowers bloom, pollen and dust particles float in the air, sending allergy sufferers into a misery of coughing, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. In this blog, we will discuss the causes of seasonal allergies and the effects they have on our eyes, and offer some tips and solutions for allergy relief.

Triggers of Seasonal Allergies:
Seasonal allergies occur when our immune system reacts hyperactively to pollen or mold spores in the air, resulting in symptoms including runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy nose or throat, and red or watery eyes. The primary cause of seasonal allergies is the pollen produced by trees, grass, and weeds.  In addition, mold spores are another common trigger that can cause allergy symptoms.

How Our Eyes React to Allergens:
When we come into contact with allergens, our immune system releases histamines, which trigger an inflammatory response, causing our eyes to itch, water and become red. Our eyes can also become swollen, and the conjunctiva (the thin layer of tissue that covers the white of the eye) can become inflamed, causing a condition known as conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

Relief From Allergy Symptoms:
If you are suffering from seasonal allergies and experiencing eye symptoms, there are several ways you can find relief. Some allergists recommend over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin, Benadryl or Allegra. However, some of these these medications can cause drowsiness and dry mouth. Alternatively, you can also use eye drops to help soothe irritated eyes or try using a cool compress. It's also important to stay hydrated and avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can exacerbate symptoms.

Preventing Seasonal Allergies:
While it's not always possible to prevent seasonal allergies altogether, there are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure to allergens.  During peak allergy season, it is recommended to stay indoors when possible, particularly on days when the pollen count is high. Keep windows and doors closed to prevent pollen from entering the home or car, change furnace and air filters frequently, and run an air purifier to remove allergens from the air.  Keeping pets clean and well-groomed can also help reduce the transfer of pollen.

Your Optometrist Can Help!
Seasonal allergies can be a nuisance, particularly when they affect our eyes. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce and manage allergy symptoms. If you're struggling with eye irritation from allergies, let your optometrist know so they can recommend a proper and effective strategy and course of treatment for your eyes. Your eye health is our priority at Lentz Eye Care.