Eye Allergy Season Starts Soon
Eye allergies typically peak in the spring and the fall and spring is just around the corner. Spring allergies are triggered by pollen from trees, bushes, grasses, and weeds. Fall allergies are usually caused by ragweed. The spring eye allergy season lasts longer and is more severe in climates with longer growing seasons and higher rainfall amounts. Ragweed is found in most of the United States with higher prevalence in the East and Midwest. One plant releases up to a billion pollen particles per year. Ragweed pollen can be carried for hundreds of miles in the atmosphere, making it hard to get evade. Ragweed starts blooming in August and the season extends into the fall.
SIMPLE REMEDIES FOR EYE ALLERGIES
The first level of treatment for eye allergies is prevention. When possible, avoid environments where the allergens are highest. Treating the local environment can be a great help in alleviating symptoms. Carpets, drapes and fabrics are a natural reservoir for pollen to settle into. Hardwood and laminate floors can help reduce your exposure. Air conditioning lowers pollen counts and HEPA filters can be added to lower counts further. Changing clothes after working outside can help reduce pollen counts inside the house. Bathing in the evening helps prevent spending the night in a bed of pollen. Hair traps pollen and washing your hair before going to bed assures you won’t be transferring the pollen to the pillow and then into your eyes. Leaving your shoes by the door can also lower the transfer of pollen into the house. Pollen accumulates on the dust on the floor so keeping it clean goes a long way in reducing symptoms. Fireplaces release high levels of particulates into the environment (and carcinogens); changing your fireplace to natural gas is great for preventing eye allergies.
The second level in treating eye allergies is twofold:
- Diluting the allergens with artificial tears
- Using cold compresses to reduce the inflammation
PRESCRIPTION EYE DROPS FOR ALLERGIES
When the nights get warmer and the humidity goes up pollens counts kyrocket. These remedies are often not enough to relieve your symptoms. There are a number of drugs available to eye doctors to treat eye allergies. Pollens cause the body to create antibodies (special proteins) that trigger the release of histamine. Histamine causes itching and redness. Anti histamine eye drops are used when allergies are milder and intermittent. When allergies become persistent daily occurrences eye drops called mast cell stabilizers are usually a better option. These eye drops prevent the histamine from being released but can take a few days to fully bring relief. Oral anti histamines actually dry out the eyes and can make eye allergies worse in some cases. Antihistamine eye drops are a much better option. When eye allergies are at a more advance stage steroid eye drops may be required. Steroid drops can cause cataracts and glaucoma when used on a prolonged basis so they must be used with caution. The newer “soft steroids” have a much better safety profile and are the preferred method of treatment. When used in the appropriate manner they can truly be a godsend in making life comfortable.
DRY EYE SYNDROME AND EYE ALLERGIES
You should be aware that dry eye syndrome can play a major role in eye allergies. When there is less fluid in the tear film to dilute the pollens eye allergies are much more common. Treating dry eye syndrome can greatly reduce eye allergy problems.
Eye allergies can be disabling when they become severe -don’t let it reach that point. Schedule an appointment with your optometrist before things reach that level, there are multiple options today and one will work for you.