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Eye Allergy Season is Coming – Are You Ready?

If you are experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes you may be suffering from pollen-induced eye allergies. For many of us, March is the beginning of eye allergy time, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Seasonal eye allergies are caused by the release of tree and flower pollen into the atmosphere and can greatly inhibit quality of life for those that suffer from them.

What can you do to defend your eyes this pollen season? If at all feasible, try to limit contact with allergens by staying indoors, especially when the pollen count is high. Keeping windows closed, using air conditioning and wearing wrap-around shades when exposed to the elements may also help to reduce contact with irritants in the air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used filter particles from the air when you are inside.

Since most of us must go outside on occasion, certain medications can treat symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes or watery eyes. Often times a simple over-the-counter lubricating eye drop will moisturize and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and cleanse the eye of irritants. Products containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers will reduce irritation of the eyes as well as other symptoms such as cold-like symptoms. Drops often work more quickly and effectively than pills or liquid medications to treat eye symptoms.

Contact lens wearers often find that they suffer more as a result of eye allergy season since irritants tends to stick to the exterior of the lens, triggering inflammation. This is made worse when oral antihistamines are taken which further dry out the eyes. Contact lens wearers should take steps to ensure eyes are lubricated and replace contacts as directed. Some optometrists prefer the use of daily disposable contacts, because replacing your lenses more frequently greatly diminishes the opportunity for allergens to build up.

Most importantly, don't rub irritated eyes. This will just exacerbate the inflammation. Because some of the effective medications do require a prescription, if over-the-counter medications are not working for you, schedule a visit with your eye doctor.