Protect Your Eyes During Allergy Seasons!

Few things are worse than itchy, watery eyes. If you struggle with eye allergies, I put together this guide to hopefully offer some relief.

Protecting your eyes during allergy seasons is crucial for maintaining eye health and reducing discomfort.

In this article, I’ll cover the common causes of eye allergies and some ways to reduce eye allergies so you can live more comfortably. I’ll also detail what to do if OTC eye allergy meds aren’t working for you.

How Allergies Affect Your Eyes

So what is an allergy exactly? An allergy is an immune response to a substance that is harmless, such as pollen.

When your eyes encounter an allergen, certain eye cells release histamines to fight it. This immune response causes eye allergy symptoms.

The most common eye allergy symptoms include:

  • Red eyes
  • Swollen eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • Watery or teary eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

Along with eye allergy symptoms, some individuals also experience:

  • An itchy, stuffy nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Itchy throat or roof of the mouth
  • Itchy ears
  • Headache
  • Sneezing

Common Eye Allergies

Allergens are present indoors and outdoors any time of year. Pollen counts are higher in Australia during certain seasons, depending on where you are located.

Here are examples of indoor and outdoor allergens:

  • Smoke
  • Perfume or certain cosmetics
  • Pet dander
  • Mould
  • Pollen from trees, weeds, and grass
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Preservatives in certain eye drops

Wear sunglasses or eyeglasses with wraparound frames to shield your eyes from pollen, dust, and other allergens when outdoors.

3 Tips to Protect Your Eyes During Allergy Seasons

1. Avoid Exposure to Allergens

If you are dealing with eye allergies, the number one step in reducing symptoms is avoiding triggers.

It is impossible to avoid all triggers since many allergens are airborne. However, you can reduce your exposure with the right steps.

Here are some tips on avoiding exposure to allergens:

  • Keep the windows of your home and car closed when the pollen count is high
  • Use air conditioning in your home and vehicle
  • Keep your air conditioner clean and change the filter regularly
  • Wear sunglasses or glasses outside to help keep pollen from getting in your eyes
  • Stay inside until mid-afternoon on windy days or high pollen count days (pollen counts often peak mid-morning or early evening)
  • Stay inside after thunderstorms, especially when pollen counts are high
  • Shower when you come inside on high pollen count days
  • Wash your clothes when you come inside
  • Wear a mask if you mow the grass
  • Remove allergy-triggering weeds, such as ragweed, near your house
  • Do not use window fans, as they can draw mould, pollen, and other allergens into your house
  • Wash your hands and rinse your eyes with water if you are exposed to pollen or allergens
  • Wash your bedding frequently in hot water (at least 54.4°C or 130°F)
  • Clean any visible mould with a solution containing 5% bleach
  • Use a mop or damp rag to clean floors rather than sweeping or dusting
  • Wash your hands right away after petting any animals
  • Wash your clothes if you visit a friend or family member with pets
  • If you are allergic to your cat or dog, keep them out of your bedroom
  • Use a dehumidifier, especially in moist areas such as the bathroom, kitchen, or basement, to reduce mould growth
  • Use allergen-reducing covers on your pillows and bedding
  • If possible, opt for tile or hardwood floors instead of carpet
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes as it contributes to irritation

2. Consider OTC Eye Allergy Treatments

Along with doing your best to avoid exposure to allergens, you may want to consider OTC eye allergy treatments.

Over-the-counter eye allergy medications include:

Artificial Tears — Artificial tear drops can help wash allergens out of the eye and add moisture to the eye to relieve dry, irritated eyes. These drops can be used several times a day. I recommend looking for a preservative-free brand.

Decongestant Eye Drops — These can be helpful in the short term, especially if they also contain an antihistamine. However, I do not recommend using decongestant eye drops for more than a few days. Using them too long can increase irritation and make eye allergy symptoms worse.

Oral Antihistamines — OTC oral antihistamines can help temporarily reduce eye allergy symptoms, but prolonged use of certain OTC eye drops can make your condition worse.

3. Work With An Ophthalmologist

Since certain OTC eye allergy meds can worsen symptoms if used too long, it is best to work with an ophthalmologist.

An ophthalmologist will evaluate your symptoms, educate you on the best ways to reduce symptoms and determine if you would benefit from prescription eye allergy medications.

For severe or chronic eye allergies, an ophthalmologist may prescribe stronger medications to help address your symptoms.

However, certain prescription eye allergy meds can have serious side effects, so it is important to follow your ophthalmologist’s advice closely.

Prescription eye allergy options include:

  • Antihistamine eye drops
  • Steroid eye drops
  • Immunotherapy shots (allergy shots) that expose your body to tiny amounts of allergens to help your body become immune to them over time
  • Nonsedating oral antihistamines

If your allergy symptoms persist or worsen despite taking preventive measures, consult an eye doctor or allergist for further evaluation and treatment options.

Tired of Red, Itchy, Watery Eyes? We’d Love to Help You Experience Relief

Eye allergies are common in Australia and can last for months on end. If you’ve tried OTC eye allergy meds and are still struggling to find relief, our team is here to help.

We offer a full scope of optometry services, including eye allergy treatment and management, eye testing, and dry eye management clinics.

If you are tired of suffering from itchy, watery, red, dry, irritated eyes, I invite you to book a consultation with our caring team.

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