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Eye Allergy Season is Here – Are You Prepared?

If you are experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes it could be due to pollen-induced eye allergies. For many, March is the beginning of pollen season, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Seasonal eye allergies are largely due to an influx of tree and flower pollen into the atmosphere and can result in a severe impact on quality of life for those that suffer from them.

How can you protect your eyes during pollen season? The first answer would be to decrease contact with allergens by staying indoors, especially when the pollen count is high. Closing windows, using air conditioners and wearing wrap-around sunglasses when exposed to the elements can also help to reduce exposure to allergens in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is also an effective way to cleanse particles from the air inside your home or office.

However, for the majority of us that can't stay indoors the entire spring season, there are medications that can treat symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes or watery eyes. It's possible that a simple eye drop is sufficient to moisturize and relieve itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out irritants. Medications containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers can allay redness and swelling of the eyes and treat other symptoms such as congestion and sneezing. Eye drops often work better than pills or liquid medications to treat eye symptoms.

Those who wear contacts often experience greater discomfort from eye allergy season because irritants can stick to the exterior of the lens, bringing about irritation. Further, oral antihistamines can dry out the eyes, worsening the situation. Individuals who wear contacts are advised to take measures to keep their eyes lubricated and replace lenses on time. Many eye care professionals suggest switching to daily disposable lenses, since changing your contacts each day lessens the chances of buildup and inflammation.

Most importantly, don't rub irritated eyes. Doing so can just exacerbate the inflammation. Because often effective medications do require a prescription, if over-the-counter options do not help, see your eye doctor.