Spring is in bloom and, unfortunately for many, so are itchy watery eyes. The daisies, cherry blossoms and lush trees and grass now offering color to the once dull, winter landscape are certainly beautiful, but their pollen bestows a nuisance for many seasonal allergy sufferers. For millions of people, seasonal allergies is not just about sneezing, but can greatly impact the eye causing daily discomfort. You might be suffering from ocular allergies if you experience the following:
-Frequent itching and rubbing of eyes
-Redness of eyes
-Watery or stringy mucus discharge
-Contact lens wearers may also notice more intolerance to their contact lenses during the day.
The first and foremost treatment for any allergy is to avoid the offending allergen. But if you're prone to pollen and other outdoor allergies that can be a little complicated unless you care to live the life of Boo Radley. Fortunately there are a few conservative and over-the-counter approaches that can help soothe eye allergies and provide a good amount of relief:
-Be aware of pollen counts in your area. Pollen counts tend to be highest on dry, warm days and between the hours of 5AM and 10AM. Use air conditioning and avoid opening windows while at home or in the car.
-Wear sunglasses when outdoors! On top of the UV protection you are also limiting the amount of pollen and other airborne allergens that comes in contact with your eyes.
-Use a preservative-free artificial tear drop at least 4 times a day to help soothe the eyes and rid your ocular surface of pollen and other eye irritating culprits.
-Apply a cool compress over the eyes several times a day to help reduce swelling and itching.
If you are not finding relief from these recommendations then you should see an eye care professional. Optometrists and ophthalmologists are there to help you and can make further over-the-counter recommendations or give you a prescription based on the severity of your eye disease. If you are a contact lens wearer, then you may also want to talk to your eye care provider about switching to daily disposable (or single use) contact lenses if you do not wear them already. Daily disposable contact lenses can be a better lens choice for people with sensitive eyes. As you wear your contact lenses, they collect a deposit of protein, lipid and debris from your tears throughout the day and the concentration of these deposits tend to be higher in ocular allergy sufferers. Even cleaning the contact lenses with solution can often not fully remove the lenses of the residue which can then result in eye irritation when the lenses are reinserted. Daily disposable contact lenses allow you to just discard your dirty lenses at the end of the day and start each new day with clean lenses.