For many, allergies can be difficult to avoid this time of year. One in six Canadians experience seasonal allergies, usually beginning in the spring. Pollen, air quality changes, pet dander, dust or a host of other airborne allergens often lead to irritating symptoms like watery red eyes, swollen eyelids, burning and itchiness.
Eye allergies usually aren’t dangerous, but they are a nuisance and can have a lasting effect on productivity and mood. The good news is that you can prepare for allergy season, and there are many options that may help alleviate symptoms.
Here are eight prescription-free tips to keep in mind:
HEPA (or High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are a useful way to remove allergens from the air in your home. These easy-to-install devices use special fibers that specifically target and trap pollutants and particles that are often too small for most other filters to pick up, offering cleaner air and less possible irritants that can affect the eyes.
During the spring and summer in particular, your local weather channel or website may provide daily pollen reports. By checking the predicted pollen levels before heading out to start your day, you can better prepare for the conditions. Minimizing time outdoors, packing glasses or eyedrops, or even remembering to keep your car window shut as you drive, can all help. You can also take advantage of the many apps available on your smartphone, from allergy-specific to air quality apps. These provide information on the go, and some apps even update changes in pollen volume and air quality throughout the day.
While they don't offer 100% protection for allergy sufferers, wearing a pair of sunglasses or even your own regular eyeglasses can work as an extra layer of protection to block some pollen and other outdoor allergens from getting near your eyes. Additionally, sunglasses help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Check out our wide selection of sunglasses here.
If you find that your eyes are becoming red or irritated due to allergies, apply a few drops of artificial tears to moisten your eyes and wash out allergens. Artificial tears are available over the counter and come in easy-to-carry sizes for quick and convenient use. If the array of saline-based artificial tears doesn’t cut it, most stores have over the counter eyedrops that contain small doses of antihistamines and moisturizers to alleviate dry eye and redness. Ask your optometrist for recommendations.
Another option may be to try out some pharmacist recommended oral antihistamines. They not only help with allergy symptoms of the nose and throat but will alleviate eye discomfort too. With many long-acting options on the market, you can prevent allergy symptoms for up to 8-24 hours at a time.
A cold compress may not deal with the core of the problem, but it could help alleviate some of the nastier side effects of allergies affecting the eyes, such as swelling, tenderness and irritation. Soak a compress in cool water and place it over your eyes. You can always place a wet compress in the fridge or opt for a dryer solution; a gel eye mask can be kept in the freezer and used when needed.
For additional information on what you can do to protect your eyes from allergies, book an appointment with your Visique optometrist today.