Spring Is In the Air and Your Eyes
Springtime is rapidly approaching. Because of the relatively mild winter we have experienced in northern Virginia, its almost certain our air will soon be filled with millions of pollens and antigens causing our allergies to jump into full gear. In our area, allergic reactions are common 12 months a year, but spring allergies tend to be more common.
Allergies manifest themselves in many ways from mild to severe. Common symptoms include
Itchy eyes (also the roof of your mouth)
Watery and puffy eyes
Treatment options are numerous. Concerning your eyes, your first step should be to have a comprehensive eye examination with your eye doctor. Your doctor can help determine if your eye symptoms are truly related to allergies, or may be related to another problem like dry eyes. This will insure your treatment plan works more effectively.
For example, if your eyes are dry, pollens will stay in contact with your eyes longer and cause the allergic symptoms of itching, redness and watering. Treating your dry eyes effectively may be your best defense against allergy symptoms.
Eye problems that are directly related to allergies can be treated different ways.
Avoidance. Attempt to avoid what causes your eye allergy. If its outdoor pollens, remain indoors with your air conditioner on filtering out the allergens. Make sure you keep your filters clean. Keep your home clean and free of pet dander and dust.
Cold Compresses. Cold compresses help constrict the blood vessels around the eyes that may slow down the release of histamines that cause itching. For young children, its often easier to use cold compresses than to fight them trying to get drops in their eyes. It will also help decrease any swelling and keep you from feeling the “need” to rub your eyes, which only makes the itching worse.
Place a few ice cubes in a zip lock bag, close your eyes, and rest the cold compress on your eyelids for ten minutes. The first minute will be shockingly cold, but after that, there is a nice “numbing” effect that takes place.
OTC Eye Drops and Medications. Over-the-counter eye drops and allergy medications may provide the temporary relief you need, but their effect usually wears off quickly. Most OTC allergy eye drops are a combination of decongestants which make the blood vessels in your eyes smaller, making them appear less red, and antihistamines, which help decrease the itching and watering.
Consult your eye doctor before you begin using these drops to make certain you can use them safely and effectively. Even OTC medications and eye drops have side effects and can be dangerous if used incorrectly or inappropriately. OTC medicines like Benadryl may also help your allergy symptoms, but consult your doctor first.
Prescription Eye Drops. Newer prescription eye drops have improved dramatically over the past few years. Eye drops like Patanol and Pataday are extremely effective combating eye allergy symptoms, and work significantly better than the above mentioned treatment options. Plus they have an added benefit of only having to be used once or twice a day.
Spring is a time to be outdoors enjoying the warmer weather and natures beauty. Prepare yourself so your allergies dont prevent you from enjoying this wonderful time of year.