How to prevent and treat seasonal Allergy Eye
Spring is Here! Finally! There’s a spring in your step (pun intended) and the excitement, that after surviving a long winter, finally spring is in the air. Unfortunately, so is pollen. As flowers start to bloom, and grasses and trees come back to life, so does mold and pollen. This can trigger seasonal allergies and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. Read on to find out how to potentially avoid some eye allergy triggers and how you can prevent or lessen your eye allergies this spring.
What is allergic conjunctivitis?
Eye allergies are also known as “allergic conjunctivitis.” Just like any other allergy, an eye allergy is your body’s reaction to substances it considers potentially harmful. The culprits are usually pollen from trees, grasses, and flowers and mold. When exposed to these things your body releases histamine, a chemical that causes swelling and inflammation. The inside of your eyelids and the covering of your eyeball have a membrane called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is susceptible to irritation from allergens, especially during hay fever season. Allergic conjunctivitis is quite common and can be irritating.
What are eye allergy symptoms?
Symptoms and signs may include:
- Tearing or runny eyes
- Itchy Eye
- Light Sensitivity
The true indicator of eye allergy is itching that is mild or severe and is usually accompanied by a runny nose or sneezing.
Are there different types of eye allergy? What triggers eye allergies?
Yes, there are different types of eye allergy and triggers. We’ve listed them below.
- Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis- as we’re discussing in this post, the most common, caused by pollen from grasses, weeds, and trees. People with seasonal eye allergy normally notice their symptoms worsen when they go outdoors on days with high pollen counts.
- Chronic (perennial) conjunctivitis- these eye allergies last year-round. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) dust mites, animal dander and feathers are the most common allergens and are the cause of perennial eye allergy-meaning it persists throughout the year. According to webmd.com, if you suffer from this type of allergy, you may notice your symptoms worsen during certain activities such as cleaning your house or grooming a pet.
- Contact conjunctivitis- triggered by contact with makeup, perfume, or other chemicals.
- Giant papillary conjunctivitis- an allergy to contact lenses that makes eyes sensitive and red.
Is Allergic Conjunctivitis contagious?
No. Unlike pink eye, a bacterial form of conjunctivitis, eye allergy isn’t contagious. If someone close to you develops it after you, it just means they are reacting to the pollen differently than you. Everyone has different triggers.
Can eye allergies damage my vision?
Eye allergy symptoms can be very annoying. Yet they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. Red, itchy, burning and puffy eyes can be also be caused by infections and other conditions that can threaten eyesight so if you’re unsure what’s causing your irritation you may want to book an appointment.
How do I treat Eye Allergies?
Some of the same medicines you use for nasal allergies work for eye allergies. For quick relief, over-the-counter eye drops and antihistamines can help. Antihistamine eye drops work well for itchy, watery eyes. You may need to use them several times a day, but don’t use the over-the-counter kinds for more than 2-3 days. Don’t use them at all if you have glaucoma.
If you suffer chronically give us a call. Some prescription eye drops work when you take them before your symptoms hit. They take longer to work than antihistamine eye drops, but the effects last longer. Of course, the best treatment is prevention. See some tips below.
What else can I do to prevent itchy allergy eyes?
Tips for reducing your exposure and symptoms according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAI):
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to reduce the amount of allergen that blows into the eyes.
- Sunglasses can also help reduce the amount of allergen that lands in the eyes.
- Apply saline eye drops to the eyes after being outdoors to wash away allergens from the ocular lining.
We agree. Especially about wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses not only provide UV protection for our eyes staving off cataracts and other damage, but they also provide a shield from pollen. If you’ve ever parked your car outside on a spring day, you may notice the windshield is covered with a fine yellow dust. That’s pollen. Just like the windshield keeps it from going inside your car, sunglasses keep a lot of airborne pollen from getting in your eyes. If you require prescription sunglasses, we have many style options for you to choose from.
Some other suggestions to reduce pollen exposure are:
- Wipe your eyes and lids with a cold damp cloth- to remove pollen on your face so you don’t accidentally rub it into your eyes
- Remove your contacts
- Close your windows. Okay, so this is sad, because after a long winter of being trapped indoors the last thing we want is to feel like we’re shut inside but keeping your windows shut on high pollen count days will keep it from landing in places like your bedroom where you can inhale it all night. Wait until days where the pollen count is low before opening bedroom windows.
We hope these tips help and that you can enjoy Spring without suffering the pitfalls of allergy eyes. If you experience any of the above symptoms with eye pain or vision loss make an appointment immediately.