Oh, My Watery Eyes!
Look no further than the oak trees outside your home or office and you’ll know what time of year is coming our way. Pollen has already started to accumulate, leading to a noticeable uptick in sniffs and sneezes. More than 20 million Americans are bracing for the annual allergy miseries: stuffy nose, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, and itchy, runny eyes that may last for weeks or even months as grass, trees and weeds roar back to life.
The spring rain and warm weather have created the perfect storm for a stellar allergy season. You look outside and everything is covered in a yellow film causing itchy, red, or even burning sensations in your eyes. Allergy suffers, you aren’t alone in your symptoms.
Allergies occur when your body becomes overly sensitive to something in the environment that typically causes no problems for most people. An allergic reaction may occur when that “something” that you are allergic to comes into contact with your eyes. In many cases, the “something” you are allergic to is airborne, such as pollen.
Because the symptoms of seasonal allergy can resemble those of dry eye disease, diagnosis can be a challenge. Although patients may have only seasonal allergies or only dry eye disease, there is a good possibility that both conditions are present.
Be nice to your eyes. When avoidance is not an option, there are still steps that you can take to reduce the allergen’s impact and increase eye comfort. Here are some relief and tips for prevention to avoid or limit exposure with your trigger(s).
There are many different medications that have proven to be effective in fighting allergies. If you cannot find a medication that helps you in combating the symptoms, it may be time to consult the eye doctors at Bissell Eye Care, as some eye diseases carry similar symptoms as allergies and will not improve with allergy treatment.
Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis, or SAC, is one of the most common types of eye allergy. Depending on the type of pollen that is in the air, people who suffer from SAC experience symptoms spring, summer or fall. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Clear watery discharge
People who have SAC may also notice dark circles under their eyes. These symptoms are often accompanied by a runny nose, sneezing, or nasal congestion.
Curtail the contacts. Contact lens wearers tend to be disproportionately affected by allergies. Even if a patient is a successful contact lens wearer for most of the year, allergy season can make them quite uncomfortable, particularly when contacts are worn for extended periods of time.
For any contact lens wearers, you may want to remove your contacts and opt for your eyeglasses until your allergy symptoms are gone. This is because the surface of contact lenses can attract and accumulate airborne allergens. If wearing your glasses is not an option, you can switch to daily disposable contacts to avoid allergen and other debris buildups.
There are also methods to combat your allergies that do not require medication.
- Stay indoors at times when pollen counts are high.
- Keep windows closed and use air-conditioning as much as possible.
- Avoid using fans in windows as this tends to pull pollen into the house.
- Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to reduce the chances of getting pollen in your eyes.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes when they feel itchy or watery.
Be sure to consult the doctors at Bissell Eye Care if you are using over-the-counter medications such as eye drops. Prolonged use of some eye drops may actually cause your condition to worsen and cause damage to your eyes. The proper treatment and avoiding pollen when it is at its highest will help to reduce your symptoms this allergy season. While spring allergies have been around for decades it’s important to stay ahead of your symptoms.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.