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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 pollen-induced eye allergies. For some of us, March is the start of pollen season, marking the onset of uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Springtime eye allergies are caused by the release of tree and flower pollen into the atmosphere and can greatly inhibit everyday functioning for those that suffer from them.

What can you do to protect your eyes this allergy season? Well the most obvious answer would be to decrease contact with allergens which means staying inside, especially on days with a high pollen count. Keeping windows shut, using air conditioning and wearing full-coverage shades when going outside may also help to protect your eyes from irritants in the air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used clear allergens 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 treat symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes or watery eyes. Often times a simple eye drop is all that's needed to moisturize and relieve itchy eyes or red eyes and remove irritants. Products with antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers are made to alleviate inflammation of the eyes and treat other symptoms such as cold-like symptoms. Drops often work better than pills or liquid medications to treat eye problems.

Nearly 20% of the U.S. population, or 54 million people suffer from allergies, nearly half of which are eye allergies. Eye allergies often run in families and result from an over-sensitivity to a particle that has entered the eye regardless of whether is it harmful. The eyes then release histamines and other immune mediators which result in excessive tears, itching, burning, redness and irritation.

Most importantly, don't rub red, itchy. This can just exacerbate the inflammation. Due to the fact that many of the effective medications do need a prescription, if over-the-counter medications are not working for you, see your optometrist.