Ah, spring. There’s nothing like it, especially after coming off a long, cold winter. But the one thing many people dislike about spring is eye allergies. Anything from pollen and dust mites to pet dander and feathers can set off allergies, triggering watery, itchy eyes. It’s important to know the triggers that are in your immediate environment, know what symptoms to look for, and know how to treat them.
Also known as allergic conjunctivitis, eye allergies present just like other types of allergies, brought on by the misfiring of the immune system. When you suffer from allergies, your body is reacting to things that aren’t really dangerous, such as dust, pollen and dander. This releases a chemical called histamine, which causes swelling and inflammation. In the case of eye allergies, the blood vessels in your eyes will start swelling and will make your eyes get itchy, watery, red and teary, says WebMD.
There are many things you can be allergic to in the spring and all year round, such as:
- Pollen from grasses, trees and weeds: This is referred to as seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.
- Dust, pet dander, and other indoor allergens. These can last year-round and are referred to as chronic conjunctivitis.
- Perfume, makeup or other chemicals can also trigger eye allergies, referred to as contact conjunctivitis.
- An allergy to contact lenses. This causes bumps on the inside of your eyelid, making your eyes red and sensitive, whether you are currently wearing your contact lenses or not. These symptoms can be worsened in the spring time when pollen and other airborne irritants can stick to your lenses.
You will likely display symptoms as soon as your eyes come in contact with a particular allergen. Other times, you may not show symptoms for two to four days.
Eye allergy symptoms include:
- Red, irritated eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Tearing or runny eyes
- Soreness, pain or burning
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen eyelids
You may also have accompanying allergy symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing or congestion.
Often times, you can use the same medicines for eye allergies as you use for your nasal allergies. Over-the-counter eye drops and medications may help. Antihistamine pills and eye drops block histamine to relieve watery, itchy eyes, and may cause drowsiness.
Always see your eye doctor for an exam to rule out an eye disease. Once you know you have spring eye allergies, do your part to reduce your exposure. Here are some tips:
- Avoid going outdoors as much as possible when pollen counts are high.
- Keep windows and doors closed when pollen counts are highest, usually in the mid-morning and early evening.
- Use air conditioning instead, both in your car and home.
- Avoid using window fans, which draw pollen and other allergens inside.
- Wear sunglasses and eye glasses when outdoors and the wind is blowing pollen around.
- Use dehumidifiers to keep humidity levels consistent, if mold is an allergy trigger for you. Remember: high humidity can cause molds to proliferate. Use dehumidifiers in humid or moist areas such as the basement.
- Use allergen-reducing covers for your bedding and pillows if you are allergic to dust mites. Wash your bedding often in hot water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Contact Simon Eye Associates for Help with Eye Allergies
To schedule your appointment to rule in or out spring eye allergies, contact us at 302-239-1933.