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Protecting Your Eyes This Allergy Season

Do you have red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes? If yes, it could be due to seasonal eye allergies. For some, March is the start of pollen season, which means uncomfortable symptoms such as itchy eyes, watery eyes or stinging, red eyes. Springtime eye allergies are largely due to an influx of pollen from trees and flowers into the air and can greatly inhibit everyday functioning for those that suffer from them.

What can you do to guard your eyes this pollen season? If at all feasible, try to decrease exposure to allergens which means staying inside, particularly when the pollen count is high. Closing windows, cooling off with air conditioning and putting on full-coverage sunglasses when going outside may also help to protect your eyes from allergens in the air. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used remove allergens from the air inside your home or office.

Since most of us have to go outside on occasion, certain medications can reduce symptoms such as red eyes, watery eyes or itchy eyes. It's possible that a basic over-the-counter lubricating eye drop will moisturize and relieve itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out allergens. Medicines with antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers are made to allay irritation of the eyes and treat non-eye related symptoms such as stuffed or runny nose and sneezing. Drops often work more quickly and effectively than pills or liquid medications to treat eye symptoms.

Approximately 54 million people have allergies, almost half of which are eye allergies. Eye allergies are often genetic and are the result of a hyper-sensitivity to an irritant that has entered the eye regardless of whether is it harmful. The eyes then release histamines and other immune mediators which cause excessive tears, itching, burning, redness and irritation.

If your eyes are irritated, don't rub them. Doing so will only exacerbate the irritation. Because often products that work to alleviate symptoms do require a prescription, if over-the-counter medications do not help, see your optometrist.