It’s that time of year again – the leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and your allergies are flaring up!
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) estimates that in the United States, about 50 million people suffer from seasonal allergies – and unfortunately, this number is likely to increase. About 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children are affected by congestion, runny noses, and sneezing. Other common symptoms of seasonal allergies are eye allergies: red, watery, itchy eyes, and perhaps swollen eyelids might accompany that stuffy nose. Though it might not be possible to entirely eliminate allergens, identifying and treating eye allergies can make this time of year significantly easier on those predisposed to allergic reactions.
Allergies or a Cold?
If you’re trying to determine if your itching, watery eyes are from a virus or eye allergies, you should ask yourself the following questions. Are you allergic to cats and/or dogs? Do you use decongestants and/or antihistamines often to control congestion, coughing, and sneezing? Do your symptoms tend to flare up in the spring and/or fall? Are your eyes sensitive to certain lotions, perfumes, or cosmetics? Do allergies run in your family? If your answer to most of these questions is yes, then you likely have eye allergies.
Fortunately, once you’re able to identify your eye allergies, you can take steps to relieve your symptoms. The most effective way to avoid eye allergies, of course, is to avoid allergens. There are many websites and apps that can help you monitor the pollen count; on days when it’s high, it’s good to stay indoors as much as possible and run the air conditioner and air filters to keep things clean. If you go outdoors, wearing wraparound sunglasses can help shield the eyes from ragweed, pollen, and other allergens.
Medication can help with eye allergy symptoms. If your symptoms are relatively mild, over-the-counter eye drops may provide some relief. These are made to assuage redness, itchiness, and watery eyes. If eye allergy symptoms are more severe, you may need a stronger medication. Medication in the form of prescription eye drops can help, as can antihistamines and decongestants. If you routinely suffer from allergies, immunotherapy, where a specialist injects small amounts of allergens to help you build immunity, may be a good option.
Finally, if you wear contact lenses, you may want to get in the habit of wearing glasses during high-pollen times. The surface of lenses can attract and hold on to allergens. Daily disposables can help, but wearing glasses – and cleaning them daily – can help you avoid eye allergens more effectively.
For more information on how to nip allergies in the bud (pun definitely intended), contact us today.