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Protecting Your Eyes This Allergy Season

Are you experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes? If yes, it could be due to seasonal eye allergies. For many, spring is eye allergy season, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Spring eye allergies are caused by the release of pollen from trees and flowers into the air and can cause a severe impact on quality of life for those that experience them.

How can you protect your eyes this pollen season? Whenever possible decrease exposure to pollen by remaining inside, especially when the pollen count is high. Keeping windows shut, cooling off with air conditioning and putting on wrap-around sunglasses when going outside may also help to protect your eyes from irritants in the air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is also an effective way to clear allergens from the air inside your home or office.

Since most of us have to leave the house on occasion, certain medications can alleviate symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes or watery eyes. It's possible that a basic over-the-counter rewetting drop will soothe and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out irritants. Medicines containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers are made to reduce irritation of the eyes and treat non-eye related symptoms such as congestion and sneezing. Drops are sometimes recommended because they can work better than pills or liquid medications to alleviate eye symptoms.

Nearly 20% of Americans are affected by allergies, nearly 50% of which are allergic eye disease. Eye allergies often run in families and are the result of a hyper-sensitivity to a substance in the eye even when it is not necessarily harmful. The eye releases histamines and other immune mediators which result in excessive tears, itching, burning, redness and irritation.

When your eyes are irritated, don't rub them. Doing so will only exacerbate the inflammation. Because some of the effective medications do need a prescription, if over-the-counter medications are not working for you, see your optometrist.