Fall is here, which means it’s time to prepare to deal with fall allergies and eye irritation. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation ranked Dallas the No. 23 worst city for allergies. Common fall allergies include ragweed, mold and dust mites. Not only can these allergens cause symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, coughing and sneezing, they can also cause eye irritation. Itchy, watery eyes are a common complaint among allergy sufferers.
However, not all eye irritation is allergy-related. Dry eyes may the culprit of your eye irritation. Dry eye syndrome is defined by chronic insufficient lubrication on the surface of the eye, is an uncomfortable condition and is one of the most common complaints eye doctors hear from patients.
Dry eyes are caused by inadequate tear production or an imbalance of the quality of tears. Our eyes require tears to wash out dust and debris and to stay moist. Healthy tears are comprised of oil, water and mucus. Individuals who suffer from dry eyes may not make enough tears to keep their eyes lubricated, or their tears may not contain the appropriate balance of those three ingredients. Some patients don’t produce enough oil because their meibomian glands may be clogged. These meibomian glands excrete oil each time you blink, but if clogged, the tears produced often evaporate too quickly.
Symptoms of dry eyes can range from minor, occasional discomfort or irritation to frequent pain in the eyes that can be debilitating for some people. If you’ve experience a feeling of grit in your eyes, red or painful eyes, you may have dry eye syndrome. Take this dry eye quiz to find out if your symptoms might be related to dry eye syndrome.
If your eye irritation is caused by allergies, follow these eye care tips for relief from your eye allergy 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 an 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 a 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, 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. If you suffer from chronic dry eyes, contact the eye experts at Key-Whitman for a solution personalized for you.