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Springtime allergies

Spring is beautiful, but it's also a key time of year for seasonal allergies.  You step outside to enjoy the warmer weather only to find that your eyes begin to itch and run. It’s possible that you have seasonal allergies that are affecting your eyes.

The biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Trees, grasses, and weeds release these tiny grains into the air to fertilize other plants. When they get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the body's defenses haywire. The immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens. That leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger the runny nose, itchy eyes, red swollen eyelids, and other symptoms that are all too familiar if you have allergies. Pollen can travel for miles, so it’s not just about the plants in your neighborhood.

A few suggestions on how to protect your eyes from spring allergies:

1. Try to stay indoors whenever the pollen count is very high. The counts usually peak in the mornings. When you do need to be outside, wear glasses to protect the surface of your eyes from direct contact with allergens. You may prefer to wear sunglasses rather than your usual glasses because most sunglasses have larger lenses than everyday eyeglasses and, therefore, provide more protection.

2. Keep your doors and windows closed during the spring months to keep allergens out. An air purifier and keeping air filters cleaned often may also help.

3. Vacuum frequently and clean places where pollen can collect (bookshelves, vents, etc).

4. Avoid eye rubbing. It's pretty ironic but rubbing your eyes to relieve itching releases even more histamines and can cause an eye infection, as well as permanent thinning of the cornea.

5. Cold therapy can provide immediate soothing relief for these symptoms.

6. Let your optometrist know about your symptoms to get prescription allergy eye drops.



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