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Tips for Managing Eye Allergies This Spring

By Greg Evans, OD

Spring is a season of new beginnings. With winter months behind us, flowers blooming, and longer daylight hours, we tend to spend more time outdoors.

For people with allergies, spring means one more thing: suffering. Spring may be in the air, but for allergy sufferers, so is pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust. These airborne allergens can trigger uncomfortable reactions such as watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, congestion, and sinus pain. There are some things you can do to minimize the discomfort throughout the spring season, including these top 5 tips for getting through eye allergy season:

  1. Pollen tends to have a higher count in the mornings and early evenings. During these times, stay inside and keep windows closed. If you enjoy an early morning exercise run, consider an alternative indoor workout during peak allergy season.
  2. Take a shower before going to sleep. Doing this at night can rinse away any lingering allergens and leave you with a clearer eye and nasal area, as well as a more restful night’s sleep.
  3. Keep artificial tears close by. They can temporarily alleviate ocular allergy symptoms by lubricating your eyes when they feel dry and itchy, and they’re usually small enough to fit inside a purse or pocket. If you don’t have any good eye drops, use a cool compress as an alternative method of relief.
  4. If your allergies are caused by dust or pet dander, vacuum. A lot. Dust collects quickly and can be difficult to spot until there’s a high amount of it. Pets can shed fast and often, and just when you think you’ve removed all the fur from your sofa, carpet, or bed, you suddenly find more, so vacuum a few times each week.
  5. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and change your linens more often during the spring season. Remnants of airborne allergens can stay on your hands, towels, and bed sheets. Washing them more frequently can minimize some of your allergic reactions.

Though it may be tempting, rubbing your eyes can actually aggravate the allergy response. If you find yourself using artificial tears more than 4 times a day, or other short-term solutions aren’t enough, speak with your eye doctor. You may be able to receive antihistamine eye drops or other prescription medications to ease your discomfort.

If you wear contact lenses, speak to your doctor about daily disposable contacts or scleral rigid lenses. These can be a great option for allergy sufferers. Since dailies are thrown away at the end of the day, there’s no heavy allergen build-up on the lenses to worry about and, unlike soft lenses, rigid lenses don’t allow allergens to stick to the lens.

Finally, consider switching to eyeglasses for a while. Even the most comfortable soft lenses can irritate the eyes during allergy season.

Dr. Greg Evans is the founding owner of Evans Eye Care in Rancho Mirage and can be reached at (760) 674.8806.

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