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Guarding 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, March is the start of eye allergy season, which means uncomfortable symptoms such as red eyes, itchy eyes, stinging, burning and watery eyes. Seasonal eye allergies are often a result of an influx of pollen from trees and flowers into the atmosphere and can result in a severe impact on quality of life for those that suffer from them.

What can you do to protect your eyes this allergy season? Whenever possible reduce contact with pollen by remaining indoors, in particular on days with a high pollen count. Closing windows, using air conditioning and wearing wrap-around shades when going outside may also help to protect your eyes from allergens in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used cleanse particles from the air when you are inside.

However, for the majority of us that can't stay indoors the entire spring season, certain medications can alleviate symptoms such as red eyes, watery eyes or itchy eyes. It's possible that a basic lubricating eye drop is sufficient to moisturize and relieve itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out irritants. Medicines with antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers will alleviate redness and swelling of the eyes as well as other symptoms such as cold-like symptoms. Drops are sometimes recommended because they can work better than oral medications to treat eye problems.

Contact lens wearers sometimes have worse symptoms during eye allergy season because irritants tend to accumulate on the surface of the lens, bringing about irritation. Further, oral antihistamines can dry out the eyes, compounding the situation. Those who wear contacts should take measures to ensure eyes are moist and switch contacts as directed. Some eye doctors recommend switching to daily disposable contacts, because replacing your contact lenses each day lowers the opportunity for allergens to accumulate.

When your eyes are irritated, don't rub them. Doing so can just exacerbate the inflammation. Since many of the products that work to alleviate symptoms do need a prescription, if over-the-counter medications do not help, see your optometrist.