As many as 50 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies, impacting up to 30 percent of adults. Apart from the usual congestion, symptoms often include itchy eyes, watery eyes, red eyes and even swollen eyelids. Allergies can even cause pink eye and other eye infections.
We experience these symptoms because our bodies react to things it believes harmful by releasing histamine, a chemical that causes swelling and inflammation. Blood vessels in the eye swell and eyes get itchy and watery.
Allergies are either seasonal or perennial. Seasonal allergies typically occur in early spring through summer and are typically caused by exposure to pollens in the air from grasses, trees and weeds. Perennial allergies occur throughout the year and are usually caused by dust mites, feathers, animal dander, perfumes, smoke, cosmetics, air pollution and even contact lenses.
The simplest approach to allergens is to do what you can to limit your exposure to them. On days when the pollen count is high, try to stay indoors as much as possible. When outdoors, use wraparound sunglasses to shield your eyes from pollens and ragweed. Also, limit exposure to dust mites by using allergen impermeable covers.
Since contact lenses can attract airborne allergens, causing them to accumulate, you should wear eyeglasses instead during the allergy season. You can also switch to disposable contacts which you can discard before allergens build up.
Non-prescription eye drops can help relieve the symptoms of allergies including itchiness, redness and watery eyes. Artificial tears can wash airborne allergens from your eyes. In more severe cases, prescription medications may be necessary.
Be careful not to rub your eyes when they itch. This will only release more histamine and make the symptoms worse.
See a doctor before allergy symptoms even start to learn how to reduce sensitivity to allergens. If you have questions or concerns about allergies, you can contact any of our eye care specialists at 877-871-1684.
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