If you’re like most people, you welcome the sight of budding trees, blooming flowers, and warming temperatures after the long, cold winter months. Unfortunately, the onset of spring weather often arrives alongside nagging spring allergies. About 40% of Americans suffer from some sort of indoor/outdoor allergies, and research has linked a strong genetic component. So, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, your children will have an increased likelihood as well.
The number one spring allergen is pollen, tiny particles released into the air by blossoming trees, grasses, and flowers in early spring. During the months of March, April, and May, most of the country is under a high or medium-high allergy forecasts, and this is bad news for allergy sufferers. When these typically harmless particles come into contact with an allergic person (through the nose or into the eyes), that person’s immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to battle the perceived threat. Consequently, our body releases histamines, and the continued immune system response to these allergens can lead to itchy, red, watery eyes and a host of other symptoms including sneezing, coughing, itching, and even asthma in certain cases.
5 Tips to Minimize Your Allergies
During peak allergy season, it’s difficult to avoid so many possible allergens, but there are a few things you can do to help minimize your symptoms.
- For mild allergies, there are a number of over-the-counter medications to help treat your symptoms. More severe allergies often warrant doctor-prescribed medication, including the use of prescription eye drops which can be very effective in treating your eye related symptoms. If you do have a prescription for seasonal allergies, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on when to begin taking your medication and stick to the prescribed schedule.
- While it may be tempting to roll down the windows while cruising in your car or open windows to enjoy the warm spring breezes in the house, this will undoubtedly allow more allergens inside where they will torment your allergies. About 30% of what’s “in the air” outside will inevitably get inside your car or home, keeping windows closed and setting your car to recirculate air through your car’s filters will help reduce the particles that get through.
- Itchy, watery eyes are one of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies. Believe it or not, dry eye syndrome can also be aggravated by allergies as the tear ducts in your eyes work overtime in an attempt to flush the foreign bodies from our eyes, often leading to a reduction in tear quality and the sensation of dry eyes. The doctors at Primary Eyecare can help diagnose and treat the discomfort of seasonal allergies. There are a number of eyedrops and prescription medications that can help alleviate discomfort.
- Wearing daily disposable contact lenses can significantly reduce the number of eye symptoms among allergy sufferers. As a result, eye doctors often prescribe daily disposable lenses to their contact lens-wearing patients as a helpful solution to seasonal allergy problems. Daily disposables are discarded after each use, thereby eliminating the accumulation of allergy-causing debris on the lenses from day to day.
- For severe seasonal allergy sufferers, the best course may be to limit your outdoor activities while pollen levels (and that of other allergens) are at their peak. The pollen maps found at www.pollen.com provide a great resource to help you make good choices regarding your time spent outside.
Your eyes are sensitive to debris, and the prevalence of pollen and other allergens in the air during the spring season can lead to allergic conjunctivitis and other more severe medical conditions resulting in frustrating discomfort. If you feel your eyes may be suffering from seasonal allergies, please contact us to setup an appointment with one of our optometrists in Charlottesville.