Helen Brandenborg, OD
We’re now in the depths of summer! And along with beautiful weather, comes the blooming of flowers and trees sending pollen flying through the air, wreaking havoc for people with seasonal allergies. Do you suffer from eye allergies? If so, you may experience common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis including:
- Itchy eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eyelid swelling
Allergies occur when our body’s natural defense system, identifies a normally harmless substance (an allergen) as being harmful. This prompts a response by our immune cells, called mast cells, to release a substance known as histamine which causes those pesky allergy symptoms.
What can be done to reduce symptoms during these times?
First, is avoidance of the allergens in the environment, but this can be easier said than done especially when we want to enjoy the weather we’ve been craving all winter! Consider wearing a pair of sunglasses when outdoors to create a physical barrier to any allergens in the air. It may be a good idea to get allergy testing to determine what allergens in the environment are causing a reaction.
Non-preserved lubricant eye drops can be used to flush the eyes of any triggering allergen to reduce an allergic response. Try putting them in the refrigerator to give a cool, refreshing sensation when they are placed in the eyes. HYLO™DUAL is a great option as a non-preserved tear drop that not only moisturizes the eye but protects the eye from environmental allergens. If that’s not sufficient at providing relief, a longer lasting option such as prescription antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer eye drops can be prescribed by your eye care doctor.
Caution with use of over the counter oral anti-histamines. While they help with any nasal congestion, they can cause dry eyes.
Immunotherapy (allergy shots) is one treatment to provide long-term resistance to an allergic response by injecting small amounts of an allergen into the body to gradually build up your body’s immunity. This can be done through an allergist.