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Defending Your Eyes During Allergy Season

Are you experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes? If yes, you may be suffering from spring eye allergies. For many of us, March begins pollen season, which means uncomfortable symptoms such as red eyes, itchy eyes, stinging, burning and watery eyes. Spring eye allergies are caused by an influx of tree and flower pollen into the atmosphere and can greatly inhibit everyday functioning for those that experience them.

How can you protect your eyes this allergy season? Whenever possible limit contact with allergens by remaining inside, especially on days with a high pollen count. Closing windows, cooling off with air conditioning and putting on wrap-around sunglasses when going outside can also help to protect your eyes from allergens in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used remove particles from the air inside your home or office.

However, for the majority of us that can't stay indoors the entire spring season, certain medications can alleviate symptoms such as red eyes, watery eyes or itchy eyes. It's possible that a basic over-the-counter eye drop will moisturize and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and cleanse the eye of allergens. Products containing antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers can allay redness and swelling of the eyes and treat non-eye related symptoms such as congestion and sneezing. Eye drops often work more quickly and effectively than pills or liquid medications to alleviate eye symptoms.

Nearly 54 million people suffer from allergies, almost 50% of which are allergic eye disease. Eye allergies often run in families and are the result of a hyper-sensitivity to a substance that has entered the eye regardless of whether is it harmful. The eye releases histamines and other immune mediators which cause excessive tears, itching, burning, redness and irritation.

If you are experiencing red, itchy eyes, don't rub them. This can only exacerbate the irritation. Because often effective medications do require a prescription, if over-the-counter solutions do not help, see your optometrist.