It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, and for many of these people, their allergies are seasonal which means that they are worse at a specific time of year owing to the prevalence of the allergen in the environment during that period. The most common is spring and in many areas of the United States, spring allergies begin as early as February and can persistent until early summer. Unfortunately, studies suggest that while many allergy sufferers may experience the worst of their symptoms at this time, they could actually suffer from the effects all year round.
Dry eye syndrome and eye allergies are not the same things, although they are often confused for one another. Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes aren’t able to make enough natural tear film, or it drains too quickly. It can also occur if the substances that make up tear film aren’t perfectly balanced. The symptoms of seasonal allergies are very similar to that of dry eye syndrome, but with one distinct difference – itchiness. Suffers of eye allergies will nearly always experience itchiness, which is a side effect of the body’s release of histamine. Patients who merely have dry eye syndrome generally do not experience this type of irritation.
Nevertheless, dry eyes are a common problem during allergy season and if you suffer from both conditions, the effects will be compounded. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to prevent dry eyes and keep your peepers feeling as comfortable as possible.
There are some fairly simple ways in which you can reduce your risk of suffering from dry eyes or eye allergies. Here are our top tips.
Monitor pollen counts. These can usually be found on weather reports online and on television. The higher the pollen count, the more likely you are to experience symptoms. If you can, stay home and keep windows and doors closed.
If you have been outside, take a shower and change your clothes when you come in. Remember to wash your hair and put your clothes in the laundry to remove all traces of allergens.
Avoid smoky, dusty, and dry environments. These can both trigger allergies and cause dry eye syndrome.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, television screen, or digital device, remember to take lots of breaks to rest your eyes. You should also remember to blink regularly.
Remember to wash your face before bed. Facial cleanliness is essential for good eye health, especially during allergy season when allergens may attach to your skin and hair, including your eyebrows and eyelashes.
Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will boost your whole-body health, as well as the health of your eyes.
Avoid using contact lenses. If you usually wear contacts, we would recommend that you switch to glasses during allergy season if you can as eye allergies can make them harder to wear. If you want to persist with contact lenses, be sure to clean them properly every night, following the instructions provided by your eye doctor. This will ensure that any allergen particles that may have clung to the lenses will be removed.
Don’t have a far or air-conditioning unit aimed directly into your face. This is sure to dry your eyes out, as well as blowing any airborne allergens directly into them.
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from dry eyes this allergy season, your eye doctor will be happy to help you to find a treatment that alleviates your symptoms. These are many different options available, and most patients try several before settling on a variety that works best for them. Some of the treatments that you may be recommended could include:
Prescription eye drops.
Punctual plugs, which work by stopping the tear film draining from the eyes so quickly, keeping it on the surface of the eyes for longer.
Lipiflow thermal pulsation device.
IPL intense pulsed light therapy.
If you would like more information about preventing dry eyes during allergy season, or if you would like to discuss any of the treatments listed above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced and knowledgeable eye care team in Plymouth, MN today.