ALLERGIES AND YOUR EYES

Your eyes can feel the effects of seasonal allergies. It all starts innocently enough, maybe with a walk outside on a warm day. Before you know it, your eyes are itching, burning, watering and swelling.

Welcome to allergy season.

You’re in good company if you suffer from eye allergies. Up to 40% of the US population battle allergy symptoms in their eyes. 50 million people suffer from allergies. Allergies are the eyes reaction to irritants like mold, pollen and pet dander. Your body produces histamine to fight off the allergen, and your eyes respond by turning red and itchy, and maybe even swelling.

You can do a lot on your own to increase your comfort. First and foremost, try to avoid whatever triggers your allergies. That may mean staying indoors on high pollen days or staying away from certain animals. Don’t rub your eyes! That will only make the irritation worse. Over the counter medicines can help when symptoms become severe. Oral antihistamines, or special allergy eye drops like Alaway or Zaditor may help. Artificial tears may also remove itchiness by washing allergens from the eye.

Cool compresses on the eyes are a simple but effective way to make yourself more comfortable. Your eye doctor can help. For those who suffer from more severe or persistent eye allergies, an eye doctor may be able to offer more effective relief. Prescription eye drops can work better than what’s available on your pharmacy’s shelves. If you wear contact lenses, your doctor may switch you to daily replacement lenses during allergy season.

“Allergy eyes” can look a lot like chronic eye conditions such as ocular surface disease (dry eyes), or eye infections. Only a doctor can tell the difference and prescribe the proper treatment. Whether it’s pollen, mold, dust, or man’s best friend, any number of things can trigger eye allergies. With the advice of your eye doctor, you can get relief from red, itchy eyes.

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