If you are experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes you may be suffering from pollen-induced eye allergies. For many of us, March is the start of pollen season, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as red eyes, itchy eyes, stinging, burning and watery eyes. Spring eye allergies are often a result of an influx of tree and flower pollen into the atmosphere and can result in a severe impact on everyday functioning for those that experience them.
What can you do to protect your eyes this allergy season? Whenever possible reduce exposure to allergens which means remaining indoors, in particular when the pollen count is high. Closing windows, cooling off with air conditioners and wearing wrap-around sunglasses when exposed to the elements can also help to protect your eyes from allergens in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used clear particles from the air when you are inside.
Since most of us must go outside on occasion, there are medicines that can reduce symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes or watery eyes. It's possible that a simple lubricating eye drop is all that's needed to soothe and relieve itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out allergens. Medications with antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers are made to reduce redness and swelling of the eyes as well as non-eye related symptoms such as congestion and sneezing. Drops often work more quickly and effectively than oral solutions to treat eye problems.
Nearly 20% of the U.S. population, or 54 million people have allergies, almost 50% of which are allergic eye disease. Eye allergies often run in families and result from a hyper-sensitivity to a substance that has entered the eye regardless of whether is it harmful. The eyes then release histamines and other immune mediators which cause excessive tears, itching, burning, redness and irritation.
When your eyes are irritated, don't rub them. Doing so can just worsen the inflammation. Since some of the effective medications do require a prescription, if over-the-counter options do not help, schedule a visit with your eye doctor.