As the saying goes, spring has sprung - and our eyes are paying the price. Well, maybe that’s not quite the saying, but it can be how it feels for allergy sufferers everywhere. As flowers start blooming, itchy, watery eyes are often the result. If you’re someone who goes to battle with seasonal eye allergies every year, here are some tips to combat the irritation.
1. Aim to moisten and cool your eyes.
Sometimes, the simplest things are also the most effective. Allergy-plagued eyes are often exacerbated by heat, eye strain and dryness, so give them a rest. When you feel the familiar itchiness coming on, take a break from whatever you’re doing and use over-the-counter artificial tears, like Refresh Tears, Systane Ultra, Thera Tears or Blink tears (ideally the preservative-free versions). Better still, keep these tears in the refrigerator for an additional cooling effect. Furthermore, you can try resting a cool compress on top of your eyes until you start to feel relief. Also, be sure to avoid rubbing your eyes, which will only make things worse.
2. Use the right eye drops.
There are many over-the-counter eye drops that claim to help with the annoying effects of allergies on the eyes, but they’re not all the same. Of all the options, we suggest the antihistamine Pataday, which was formerly only available as a prescription for itchy, watery eyes. Today, you can get it over-the-counter at any drugstore or even on Amazon. Available in either a once-a-day or twice-a-day formula, there are few OTC eye drops that get the job done quite like Pataday.
Even so, artificial tears and antihistamines like Pataday are not always strong enough to eliminate your allergic conjunctivitis discomfort and irritation. If this is the case for you, book an appointment to see a Horizon eye care provider for prescription anti-inflammatory medication drops, like steroids. Steroid eye drops are the most commonly prescribed eye drops for ocular discomfort, swelling and redness. There are many options available, including fluorometholone, prednisolone and loteprednol to name a few. These medications are very safe and effective, and can quickly eliminate allergy eye symptoms faster than OTC methods.
3. Keep an eye on allergy forecasts.
You might be in the habit of checking the weather (although, in Arizona we’re starting to reach the time of year which can only be designated as “hot or hotter”), but did you know you can check allergy forecasts as well? Head to Pollen.com in order to find out which allergens are highest and prepare for your day. Type in your zip code, and you’ll see a current allergy report for your area, including how high the allergen count is and the top allergens for the day.
As an example, let’s say Palo Verde and Mesquite are two of the trees you’re most allergic to. Unfortunately, they’re also the top allergens on a given day. Although less than ideal, knowing this can help you make an informed decision to stay indoors or take allergy medication (see next point).
4. Proactively take an allergy pill.
Even if you don’t love the idea of taking medication every day, those who are afflicted by allergies to a great degree may need to in order to get relief. Just like with eye drops, there are numerous allergy pills available. You might need to try a couple before discovering which works best for you, but eventually one should. We recommend keeping track of the top allergens and taking an allergy pill when your area is in the “high” zone (or your particular allergens are at their peak), or even proactively taking one every day just to keep uncomfortable symptoms at bay.
All of these tips can help you avoid itchy, watery eyes and the annoyances that come with eye allergies. If you try them and are still having issues, though, it’s time to see an eye doctor. Contact us today to ask about our exams.