Millions of North Americans suffer with seasonal eye allergies. Seasonal eye allergies can start at any age. Symptoms can range from mildly annoying redness to inflammation that’s severe enough to impair your vision. Areas that have poor air quality can result in more severe symptoms.
Here’s how to identify seasonal allergies that affect your eyes and what you can do to relieve the symptoms.
Eye Allergy Symptoms
Eye allergies occurs when something you are allergic to irritates the conjunctiva, the delicate membrane covering the eye and the inside of the eyelid.
Although the symptoms that eye allergies cause can be annoying, not to mention unbecoming, they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. However, eye allergies share symptoms with more serious eye conditions, such as infections and other conditions that do threaten eyesight. It’s important to be sure that what you have is only an allergy.
Symptoms of eye allergies can happen alone, but are usually accompanied by sneezing, sniffling or a stuffy nose, as with nasal allergies. Eye allergy symptoms include the following:
- Clear, watery discharge (tearing)
These symptoms can be triggered by outdoor allergens, such as pollen from grass, trees and ragweed. Your body considers these pollens foreign particles.
Managing Seasonal Eye Allergies
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to completely eliminate seasonal allergy symptoms but there are things you can do to lessen their effect. Naturally, the first step involves avoiding the specific allergen causing your symptoms, but that can be difficult if you love being outdoors in the summer. Try the following tips:
- Keep the windows of your home and car closed during high pollen periods and turn on the air conditioner, instead.
- Remember that pollen release is at its peak in the morning and early afternoon.
- Make sure that the filters in your furnace are clean.
- Wear glasses or wraparound sunglasses outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
- Wash your hands after petting an animal.
Eye Allergy Treatments
You can control some of the symptoms of eye allergies with non-prescription, over-the-counter medications such as:
- Artificial tears
- Decongestant eye drops (using eye drops for “red eye” longer than a week can make things worse)
- Oral antihistamines (these may dry your eyes and make your symptoms worse)
If your eye symptoms don’t get better with self-help strategies or over-the-counter remedies aren’t working for you, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. He may recommend a visit with an allergist. An allergist will review your medical history and symptoms, conduct tests and prescribe medications that may be more effective. Prescription medications include:
- Prescription eye drops
- Allergy shots
- Non-sedating oral antihistamines (can may your eyes dry and worsen symptoms)
While you may not become completely symptom-free, there are certainly many things you can do to help lessen the aggravation that eye allergies can cause.