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Don’t Let Eye Allergies Get You Down

If you are experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes it could be due to seasonal eye allergies. For some, spring is eye allergy season, which means uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Springtime eye allergies are caused by the release of pollen from trees and flowers into the atmosphere and can cause a severe impact on quality of life for those that suffer from them.

What can you do to defend your eyes during allergy season? Whenever possible decrease exposure to allergens which means remaining inside, particularly on days with a high pollen count. Keeping windows closed, using air conditioning and wearing wrap-around shades when going outside can also help to limit contact with allergens in the air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is also an effective way to clear irritants from the air inside your home or office.

Since most of us have to leave the house on occasion, there are medications that can alleviate symptoms such as red eyes, watery eyes or itchy eyes. Often times a basic over-the-counter eye drop is all that's needed to moisturize and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out allergens. Products containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers can reduce irritation of the eyes and treat other symptoms such as stuffed or runny nose and sneezing. Drops often work better than pills or liquid medications to treat eye symptoms.

Nearly 20% of the U.S. population, or 54 million people are affected by allergies, nearly 50% of which are eye allergies. Eye allergies are often genetic and result from an over-sensitivity to an irritant that has entered the eye regardless of whether is it harmful. The eye releases histamines and other immune mediators which result in excessive tears, itching, burning, redness and irritation.

If you are experiencing irritated, watery eyes, don't rub them. This will just worsen the inflammation. Because some of the effective medications do need a prescription, if over-the-counter solutions do not help, schedule a visit with your optometrist.