With allergy season approaching, it is likely that you will begin to experience allergy-related symptoms. Many people who experience seasonal allergies, commonly called hay fever, have symptoms that impact their eyes. Though allergies don’t necessarily pose a threat to your ocular health, the symptoms can be detrimental to their overall quality of life. Understanding how to recognize and alleviate symptoms can go a long way toward ensuring that you remain comfortable throughout allergy season. There are many ways to protect your eyes, including eye exercises when working on computers and wearing the appropriate eyewear.
How Allergies Work
Allergies occur when an individual comes into contact with specific allergens. These allergens cause the immune system to have an overreaction, which results in the symptoms of allergies. This causes symptoms like sneezing, itchiness, rashes, and more. In most situations, being proactive with your known allergens can help you to avoid experiencing the symptoms. If an individual with pollen allergies goes outside when pollen levels are high, they will likely inhale pollen particles. This will then cause the reaction in their immune system and they will experience the symptoms of hay fever. Studies have shown that between 70-80% of individuals with hay fever also experience a condition called allergic conjunctivitis.
Allergic conjunctivitis is the technical term for the allergic inflammation of the eyes. This is when allergic symptoms impact the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the eyelids and the eyes. When hay fever impacts the conjunctiva, it results in additional symptoms that impact the eyes. These symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable, which is one of the reasons that treating the symptoms can improve your overall quality of life. Here are some of the symptoms that can help you to determine if you have allergic conjunctivitis.
Symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis
It is important to keep in mind that allergic conjunctivitis is usually present in addition to other allergy symptoms, such as sneezing and a runny nose. If the only symptoms are impacting the eyes, it is likely that there is a different issue. You should ensure that you visit an optometrist for an exam to protect the health of your eyes. Allergic conjunctivitis tends to cause the eyes to appear red. Keep in mind that allergic conjunctivitis isn’t contagious, though the red eyes can mimic the appearance of pink eye. Eyes may become watery and itchy, which often results in individuals rubbing them. This rubbing can further irritate the eye, as well as introduce bacteria or dirt to the surface of the eye. It is important to refrain from rubbing your eyes, even while you are experiencing the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.
A less known symptom of allergic conjunctivitis is that it can actually cause the eyes to dry out. This often results in a burning sensation. In addition, it is important that eyes remain moisturized to flush out bacteria and harmful particles. If you are experiencing dry eyes, implementing solutions to keep them moisturized can be particularly beneficial. Keep in mind that dry eyes are also common throughout the winter months. This is more commonly due to indoor heating rather than allergic symptoms. Protect your eyes throughout the winter and continue to implement solutions to protect them throughout allergy season.
Reducing the Impact of Allergic Conjunctivitis
There are several steps that you can take to reduce the overall impact of allergic conjunctivitis. This will allow you to be more comfortable and improve the health of your eyes. Allergy eye-drops can both help to wash out the allergens that have impacted your eyes. One of the major benefits of this avenue is that it can also help to keep the eyes more moisturized, as well. Allergy medications are often very effective at preventing all kinds of allergy symptoms. Taking an allergy medication every morning throughout allergy season can help to keep you more comfortable and prevent the symptoms from arising. Allergy shots can also be used to help build up your immunity to various allergies. These shots tend to work over a period of months, but you should consult with your doctor to learn more about this option for reducing allergy related symptoms.
Taking the steps to prevent contact with allergens can also help to reduce the likelihood of substantial symptoms and discomfort. The appropriate steps will depend primarily on the allergens that you are vulnerable to. Wash your bedding regularly to remove allergens on the surface of your bed. If you are allergic to pet dander, you should ensure that you keep pets off of the furniture and out of your bedroom. Washing your hands and face regularly can help to prevent exposure to the allergens that cause your immune system to overreact. If you are allergic to pollen, you should keep track of the levels of pollen. Try to stay inside as much as possible on high pollen days to reduce your allergy related symptoms.
Wearing Contacts with Allergies
You can certainly wear contacts during allergy season, but there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind. Contacts are always going to slightly irritate the eyes. Though this is usually virtually unnoticeable, contacts can magnify the irritation from allergic conjunctivitis. Ensure that you always thoroughly rinse your contacts to minimize the possibility of irritation. You should also consider disposable, one day use contacts to ensure that the contacts that they use are always clean.
Here at Wolcott Optical, we are well aware of the discomfort that can occur to your eyes during allergy season. It is important to keep in mind that experiencing these symptoms without the presence of allergies can indicate a different ocular health concern. If you are concerned about the condition of your eyes, it can be incredibly beneficial to schedule an eye exam with an optometrist. Our experienced professionals are dedicated to protecting the health of your eyes, as well as helping you to minimize any discomfort that your eyes experience through allergy season. To learn more about the impact that allergy season has on your eyes, contact us at Wolcott Optical today!