Spring allergies affect an estimated 30 to 50 million Americans. In Dallas, common allergens are based on the trees, weeds, grasses and plants that grow here. The Pollen Library provides a list of common allergens based on season, and on a daily basis, the weather forecast from local Dallas news stations includes a pollen
count specific for the day. For many allergy sufferers, spring means a season filled with sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion. Unfortunately for many, it can also mean dealing with red eyes, dry, itchy, burning watery or even swollen eyes. These symptoms can be more than irritating; they can even be painful.
When the conjunctiva (mucous membrane covering the whites of the eyes and lining the eyelids) comes into contact with allergens such as pollen from grasses, trees and weeds, the immune system senses a threat and antibodies are developed that release histamine, causing watery, itchy, red eyes.
In addition to seasonal allergies, many people suffer from perennial allergies, which may be caused by dust, mold, pet dander, air pollution, cosmetics, perfume, medication or smoke. If you aren’t certain the cause of your eye allergies, ask your doctor for an allergy test to determine the source of your misery.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, follow these eye care tips for relief from your symptoms:
- Stay inside and keep your windows closed on high pollen count days. Local weather services provide daily pollen counts. When pollen is high, avoid being outside as much as possible. Typically, pollen counts tend to be higher mid-morning and early evening.
- Wear eyeglasses or sunglasses to block pollen from your eyes. When you do go outside, eyeglasses or sunglasses can provide and extra shield to protect your eyes from allergens that may be in the air.
- Practice proper contact lens care. Contact lens wearers may experience more allergy symptoms due to allergens becoming trapped behind the contact lens. Lenses should be cleaned thoroughly and changed regularly.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes. Consistently rubbing or scratching your eyes may lead to more serious eye problems or damaged cornea. Purchase over-the-counter eye drops, or ask your doctor for prescription eye drops to help relieve dry or itching eyes.
- Change your bedding frequently. Allergens can stick to your bedding, further irritating your eyes.
- Wash your hair frequently. If you spend much time outside during the spring, wash your hair frequently, as pollen and other allergens may become trapped in your hair.
Your allergies may not be preventable, but it is possible to reduce the irritating and painful symptoms of eye allergies.