If you are experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes it could be due to seasonal eye allergies. For some of us, March is the start of pollen season, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Spring eye allergies are largely due to an influx of tree and flower pollen into the air and can result in a severe impact on quality of life for those that suffer from them.
What can you do to guard your eyes this pollen season? Whenever possible limit contact with allergens by staying inside, especially when the pollen count is high. Closing windows, cooling off with air conditioners and putting on wrap-around shades when going outside can also help to protect your eyes from allergens in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used remove allergens from the air when you are inside.
However, for the majority of us that can't stay indoors the entire spring season, there are medications that can alleviate symptoms such as red eyes, watery eyes or itchy eyes. Often times a simple rewetting drop will moisturize and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and remove irritants. Medications containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers will reduce redness and swelling of the eyes as well as non-eye related symptoms such as cold-like symptoms. Eye drops often work more quickly and effectively than pills or liquid medications to treat eye problems.
Contact lens wearers often experience greater discomfort from eye allergies because allergens are more likely to stick to the exterior of the lens, bringing about inflammation. This is made worse when oral antihistamines are taken which further dry out the eyes. Those who wear contacts should take steps to keep their eyes moist and switch contacts on time. Many eye doctors prefer switching to daily disposable contacts, because replacing your contact lenses each day greatly diminishes the opportunity for allergens to accumulate.
When your eyes are irritated, don't rub them. This will only exacerbate the inflammation. Because often products that work to alleviate symptoms do need a prescription, if over-the-counter options do not help, book a visit with your optometrist.