So why does springtime leave so many of us with itchy, red, and puffy eyes? How can we be sure it’s allergies and not something else, and what can we do to keep our eyes feeling good so we can enjoy the season?
Allergies can be caused by all kinds of things, from pet dander to dust to perfume, so they aren’t necessarily limited to a particular time of the year. However, they do tend to get worse in the spring and the fall, and that’s because of pollen. Some plants, like grass, pollinate in the spring, while others, like ragweed, pollinate in the fall.
During this time, the air becomes full of these tiny particles that we can breathe in or get in our eyes without realizing. When that happens to someone with an overactive immune system, it leads to congestion, itchy eyes, and plenty of sneezing.
Typically, eye-related allergy symptoms will include watering, redness, and itchiness, and there may also be a scratchy or gritty feeling, a burning sensation, swollen eyelids, and some discomfort wearing contact lenses. It might seem that taking decongestants will help, but they could make the eye symptoms worse by drying out the eyes, which will only make them even more vulnerable to airborne allergens.
It’s very important to stay well hydrated during an allergy attack, and you can use eye drops to help with eye irritation (especially if you take an allergy medication that dries them out). It’s also a good idea to stick to glasses instead of contacts, which can trap allergens against the eye and make symptoms even worse. And no matter how much they itch, don’t rub your eyes!
It’s not really possible to completely avoid all that pollen in the air, but there are ways we can minimize our exposure. Keep your windows shut and don’t use window fans that can blow the pollen into the house. It’s also a good idea to stay inside on windy days and wear a pollen mask while doing yard work. Even wearing sunglasses or regular glasses can offer some protection for your eyes.
Whether you’re having eye trouble because of allergies or any other reason, we’re here to help. We want all of our patients to be able to enjoy the spring season, so give us a call if you’ve been dealing with itchy, runny eyes.