Fall allergy season may be the longest and strongest this year...
As the fall season approaches, it also brings the season of ragweed. For many, that means sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes. For those who suffer with allergies, it may be even worse this year. Doctors warn that recent rain and flooding will make this allergy season a particularly bad one. The summer heat wave will also make allergies worse this year. Higher temperatures help plants grow, meaning more pollen will be released in to the air.
Eye allergies sometimes cause significant discomfort, often interrupting daily activities with annoying symptoms. A person develops eye allergies when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. Allergens may be found indoors or outdoors and include things such as grass, tree and weed pollen, dust, and pet dander. When exposed to these allergens, cells in the eyes release histamines and other chemicals in an effort to protect the eyes. It is this chemical reaction that causes blood vessels inside the eyes to swell, and the eyes to become itchy, red and watery.
Allergic eye reactions occur when a person is sensitive to an allergen. Eye allergies often affect the conjunctiva the clear covering that covers the front part of the eyeball. This clear covering is the same type of material that lines the inside surface of the nose. Because the two areas are so similar, allergens can trigger an allergic response in both areas. Therefore, people with nasal allergies may also suffer from eye allergies.
An optometrist or ophthalmologist can usually diagnose eye allergies based on a patient's symptoms. Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be beneficial to those suffering from eye allergies. OTC artificial tears, decongestants and antihistamines can be effective in treating short-term symptoms. Artificial tears help flush the allergens out of the eyes. Decongestant eyedrops are available without a prescription to help alleviate eye redness. Contact lenses should also be avoided while allergy symptoms are present, as symptoms can cause discomfort with contact lenses.
Prescription medications are highly effective in relieving symptoms. Antihistamines reduce itching, redness and swelling, usually rather quickly. Mast cell stabilizers may be used to help prevent the release of histamines, thus reducing symptoms.
Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our three doctors if you suffer from seasonal allergies. We can give your eyes what they need to make it through this Fall season!