Are your eyes itchy, red or watery? Seasonal allergies are caused by the allergens in the air. When they come in contact with the tissues of your eyes, your eyes may over-react. With allergies, your body releases histamine that causes your eyes to itch and water.
Preventing the allergens from getting into your eyes is the first line of defense. Keep your home free of pet dander and dust. Stay inside with the windows closed when there is a lot of pollen in the air. Use high quality furnace and vent filters that trap common allergens and replace the filters frequently.
Wear wraparound sunglasses to help shield your eyes from allergens, and drive with your windows closed during allergy season.
If despite your best efforts to avoid allergens your eyes are still itchy and watery, it may be time to try eye drops. Some products have ingredients that act as mast cell stabilizers, which alleviate redness and swelling if used properly. It can take 10 – 14 days for the active ingredients to have a noticeable effect on the mast cells so it is important to use the drop as prescribed. Antihistamines are known for their immediate relief and are often combined with the mast cell inhibitor for a single solution.
Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription eye drops each have their advantages; for example, OTC products often are less expensive, while prescription ones usually are stronger and more effective.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops can be prescribed to decrease swelling, inflammation and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. Steroid eye drops provide quick relief but must be used cautiously as the possible side effects are severe.
If you wear contact lenses, you may find yourself less comfortable during the allergy season. Excess discharge and the allergens can get on the contact lenses, increasing irritation. Diligent control of the eye allergy and daily use contact lenses may be an option to continued contact lens wear.
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