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Tips-for-allergy-seasonIt was a long hard winter, but the cold winter months have passed and we are in the midst of 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. Did you know that the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that 50 million people in the United States have seasonal allergies? This affects approximately 30% of adults and 40% of children.

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).

Outdoor Tips for Allergy Season

  • How do I know what the pollen count is you may ask? The weather channel for Pittsburgh provides an allergy tracker.
  • Avoid going outside and close windows when pollen count is high.
  • Use A/C and air filters/purifiers and be sure to change them regularly and perhaps more often during peak allergy season.
  • Wear sunglasses or glasses when outside to keep the pollen out of your eyes

Indoor Tips for Allergy Season

To minimize dust mites:

  • Use special pillow covers to keep allergens out
  • Wash bedding frequently in hot water
  • Consider replacing old mattresses
  • Clean floors with a damp mop
  • Replace carpeting with hardwood for an easier clean

Curtail the contacts. Contact lens wearers tend to be disproportionately affected by allergy. 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 buildup.

A last bit of advice: Avoid rubbing your eyes, it will only irritate your eyes more! Dry eye patients, regardless of other treatment they may be on, should use consider the artificial tears and lubricants as a protective measure to reduce discomfort.

About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.