Are you experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes? If yes, it could be due to seasonal eye allergies. For some of us, March begins pollen season, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as red eyes, itchy eyes, stinging, burning and watery eyes. Seasonal eye allergies are caused by the release of pollen from trees and flowers into the air and can result in a severe impact on quality of life for those that suffer from them.
What can you do to guard your eyes during allergy season? Whenever possible decrease contact with pollen by staying indoors, particularly when the pollen count is high. Keeping windows shut, cooling off with air conditioners and putting on full-coverage shades when going outside can also help to protect your eyes from irritants in the air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is also known filter irritants from the air when you are inside.
However, for the majority of us that can't stay indoors the entire spring season, there are medicines that can reduce symptoms such as red eyes, watery eyes or itchy eyes. It's possible that a basic over-the-counter lubricating eye drop is enough to moisturize and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and cleanse the eye of irritants. Medicines containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers will alleviate inflammation of the eyes as well as other symptoms such as cold-like symptoms. Drops are sometimes recommended because they can work better than oral solutions to alleviate eye problems.
About 20% of Americans are affected by allergies, almost 50% of which are eye allergies. Eye allergies can be hereditary and result from an over-sensitivity to a particle 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.
Most importantly, don't rub red, itchy. Doing so can just worsen the irritation. Because often effective medications do need a prescription, if over-the-counter solutions do not help, schedule a visit with your optometrist.