Seasonal Allergies and your Eyes
Ragweed and tree pollen are allergens that can cause several inconvenient symptoms like watery and itchy eyes. How can these nuisances be minimized?
Let’s begin by defining the symptoms of seasonal allergies, even though sneezing, itchy and watery nose and eyes can be due to other reactions not necessarily linked to hayfever, for instance. The abovementioned symptoms can be accompanied by allergic conjunctivitis, which comes with its own set of eye issues such as:
- Inflammation of the inner surface of the eyelid;
- Blurred vision;
- Grittiness and scratchiness;
Some helpful tips:
While it is difficult to make eye allergy symptoms disappear completely, it is possible to take measures that can lessen the severity of the symptoms:
Stay indoors: Minimize or eliminate all contact with triggering allergens. For example, stay indoors during periods when pollen counts are at their highest, such as mid-morning, early evening or when there are strong winds.
Stay cool: Hold a clean washcloth soaked in ice water over your closed eyes for five to ten minutes in order to alleviate itchiness.
Hydrate your eyes: Over-the-counter ophthalmic eye drops can bring relief, especially if they are stored in the refrigerator to ensure coolness. Ask your IRIS Optometrist which ophthalmic eye drops are best for you.
Cover up: Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when outdoors to prevent pollen from penetrating your eyes.
Avoid dust: Keep the filters from your central heating and air conditioning units clean in order to keep dust mites and dust away. Clean floors with a damp cloth or mop instead of dry dusting or sweeping.
Isolate yourself from allergens: Keep your car windows closed when driving.
Choose disposable contact lenses: Pollen adheres to humid surfaces and contact lenses are considered as such. Wear daily disposable contact lenses during allergy season.
Keep your hands away from your eyes: Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes as this tends to worsen the symptoms.
Speak to your Optometrist: If the symptoms persist or worsen, book an appointment with your Optometrist. A professional biomicroscopic examination of the eye provides a magnified view of the tissues and structures of the eye, allowing the Optometrist to detect any signs of allergy and to rule out other causes of eye irritation such as bacterial or viral infections.
What are the root causes of seasonal allergies? Seasonal allergies are caused by outdoor allergens such as ragweed and pollen from herbaceous plants or trees. When allergens come in contact with your body, they bind themselves to your antibodies. It is the activated antibodies that trigger your immune system to release the histamine-loaded mast cells in your eyes as well as other chemicals to combat the allergens while producing the symptoms we are familiar with. The process is an overreaction of the immune system to generally harmless allergens.
Source : Canadian Association of Optometrists