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How Can Seasonal Allergies Affect Your Eyes?

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Seasonal allergies affect millions every year, and they can be especially hard on the eyes, leaving them itchy, red, irritated, and watery. Though these symptoms can be incredibly annoying, they are not threatening to your eyesight.

Even though there are countless allergens that can make our eyes water all year round, like pet dander and dust, seasonal allergies generally flare up two times a year: in fall and spring. This can translate into long months of an irritated nose, congestion, itchy eyes, throat, sneezing, puffy eyes, coughing, and sneezing for people with allergies.

The reason our allergies are triggered the most during fall and spring seasons is that ragweed pollinates throughout fall, while grass and trees pollinate during spring. Mold will also send out spores around the same time. Allergic reactions, which include seasonal allergies, are the result of our immune system overreacting to these allergens, and much of this overreaction happens right on your eyes’ surface.

This, in turn, results in a range of symptoms, depending on how your body reacts. The most common are the above-mentioned symptoms – redness, itchiness, and liquid discharge. These could be combined with a burning sensation, swollen eyelids, lens discomfort, and a gritty or scratchy feeling. Some adverse side-effects from decongestants include – dry eyes and dry sinuses, making them more vulnerable to airborne allergens.

Prevention and Treatment of Seasonal Allergies

Since a majority of allergens are airborne, avoiding them altogether can be quite difficult. However, there are certain things you can do to reduce your exposure. The first one is rather obvious, and that is to stay indoors when there’s extra wind outside. In addition to that, you should wear a pollen mask while doing yard work, and avoid using window fans that could blow spores and pollen into your house. Wear sunglasses or even regular glasses to protect your eyes from pollen.

In case you do have an allergy attack, make sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Also, use eye drops if your eyes become irritated. And avoid rubbing your eyes often, since doing so can irritate them even more.

Artificial tears can only help bring you temporary relief since they wash out the allergens, but if you fail to remove the root source they will return. Oral antihistamines can prevent the watering, but they may also dry your eyes. Visine and other decongestant eye drops can be used for a couple of days, but long-term use may result in problems. Prescription corticosteroids can offer relief from eye allergies, and these medications can be either a nasal spray or taken orally.

Even though not technically a medication, immunotherapy can be extremely effective. It enables your body to naturally suppress the immune reaction. Lastly, seeing an allergist or an optometrist can also help you find relief by dealing with your allergy symptoms effectively.

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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