Thursday, March 19th officially marks the first day of Spring! While you may be excited about the approach of warmer weather and longer days, for those who suffer from allergies, spring also marks the start of weeks or months of unpleasant and potentially debilitating symptoms.
Although a myriad of substances can cause allergies, by far the biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Pollen is tiny, almost microscopic grains that are released from trees, grasses, and weeds in order to fertilize other plants. When pollen particles get inhaled by someone who is hypersensitive to pollen, it triggers an autoimmune response called an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions happen when the body mistakenly identifies the pollen as a dangerous invader and, in order to protect itself, releases antibodies to fight against the invader. Along with antibodies, the body also produces histamines, which are chemicals that enter the bloodstream, triggering the typical symptoms that are associated with allergies.
How allergies can affect the eyes
Allergies affect different parts of the body including eyes. Some of the most common ways in which the eyes are affected by allergies include:
- Itchy eyes or burning eyes
- Red eyes
- Eyes that are swollen
- Eyes that are watering excessively
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak to your eye doctor to determine if you have an underlying problem or if you are suffering from spring allergies.
6 Tips for dealing with spring allergies
We understand that dealing with allergies that affect your eyes can be frustrating and can potentially limit your day to day activities. Here are our top tips for easing your symptoms this spring:
1. Don’t wear contacts. If you usually wear contact lenses, it is advisable to switch to glasses while your allergies are acting up. This is because the surface of contact lenses can attract and accumulate any airborne allergens, making your symptoms much worse. If you can’t wear glasses, change to using daily disposable lenses so that they can be discarded each day.
2. Wear glasses or sunglasses outside. This will help to keep pollen out of your eyes when you are outside.
3. Take eye makeup off at the end of the day. Any cosmetics that you wear on your eyes could attract pollen particles that could end up sticking to your eyes for the duration of the day. By removing any makeup, you can help eradicate these and limit their allergic effect.
4. Use eye drops. Eye drops aren’t just for diseases like conjunctivitis or dry eye disease. There are also some which can be used to help relieve itchiness, redness, excessive watering, and other symptoms of allergies.
5. Take antihistamines. Antihistamines are medications that are designed to control the level of histamine in your blood—eliminating many of the symptoms of allergies, including itchiness, swelling, redness, and more.
6. Steroid medications. In some instances where their symptoms are particularly significant, patients may be given a prescription for steroid eye drops. These have ingredients that helps to reduce inflammation and other allergy symptoms. These must be taken exactly as directed and are advised for short term use only.
For more spring allergy tips, or if you are experiencing eye allergies and would like more advice from our expert doctors, please schedule an appointment with Grin Eye Care in Olathe, KS, Leawood, KS, or one of our satellite locations today.