As Spring quickly approaches and the weather turns warm, our senses are bombarded with tiny specs of pollen and dust. So starts allergy season.

Outdoor allergens such as ragweed, grass or tree pollen can bring on seasonal allergies but indoor triggers including pet dander, mold, feathers in bedding and dust mites can cause symptoms all year long. Cigarette smoke, perfume, car exhaust and some cosmetics can also bring on symptoms for some.

When allergens come in contact with your body, they bind themselves to antibodies in your body.  It is the activated antibodies that then trigger the mast cell in your eyes that are loaded with histamine to release their contents. In response, your immune system starts to release large quantities of histamine and other chemicals from these mast cells to combat the allergens. In short, the process is an overreaction of the immune system to generally harmless allergens.

What Are Eye Allergy Symptoms?

Itching
Burning
Redness
Clear, watery discharge

While these symptoms can appear alone, they can also come with a stuffy nose, sneezing and sniffling.

How do you prevent seasonal allergies?

Unfortunately, seasonal allergy symptoms can be difficult to completely eradicate. The first step in the management of this condition involves avoiding the specific allergen you are allergic to. This can be difficult especially if you are active outdoors in the summer. There are simple ways to get some relief, such as keeping the windows of your home and car closed and turning the air conditioner on, remembering that pollen release is at its peak in the morning and early afternoon, and making sure the filters in your furnace are clean.

Managing and Treating Eye Allergies

Unfortunately, eye allergy symptoms can be difficult to completely eradicate. The first step in management is avoidance. Try to stay away from the particular allergy by:

  • Keeping windows closed when pollens are more likely to be in the air. Use air-conditioning when possible in your car or home.
  • Wearing glasses or sunglasses when you are outside also helps to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Using, “mite proof” bedding.
  • Using a dehumidifier to keep mold at bay.
  • Making sure to wash your hands after petting animals.
  • Cleaning floors with a damp mop. Sweeping can stir up rather than get rid of allergens.
  • Keeping the filters in your furnace clean
  • You can control some symptoms by:
    • Holding a clean face cloth soaked in ice-cold water over closed eyes for 5-10 minutes to reduce itchiness.
    • Using non-prescription artificial tear eye drops, especially if they are stored in the refrigerator to keep them cold. Repeating these simple procedures two to three times per day is recommended.
    • Antihistamine drops.
    • Oral antihistamines (note that they may dry your eyes and make your symptoms worse).

Symptoms that persist warrant further evaluation by a doctor of optometry. A professional examination of the eye with a bio-microscope provides a magnified view of eye tissues and structures, allowing an optometrist to identify the signs of allergy and rule out other causes of eye irritation such as bacterial or viral infections.

For those who suffer from severe seasonal allergies, allergy shots may be the treatment of choice. This is usually preceded by tests performed by an allergist to determine exactly what substances you are allergic to.

Despite all the different remedies out there to deal with seasonal allergies, there is no cure. It is not recommended to diagnose and treat your symptoms yourself. Consult your doctor of optometry to recommend the best therapy to provide relief from seasonal allergies.

How do you treat seasonal allergies?

Remedies to relieve ocular symptoms of seasonal allergies can involve oral over-the-counter anti-histamine medications taken during your particular allergy season.  You can achieve additional comfort by placing a clean face cloth soaked in ice-cold water over closed eyes. Over-the-counter artificial teardrops and antihistamine eye drops can also help reduce red, itchy, and watery eyes.Prescription medications that combine an antihistamine and a mast cell stabilizer work best by providing immediate and long-term relief. For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, the ocular symptoms can be very uncomfortable. Despite all the different remedies out there to deal with seasonal allergies, there is no cure. It is not recommended to diagnose and treat your symptoms yourself. Consult your doctor of optometry to recommend the best therapy to provide relief from seasonal allergies.