Eye care when spring is in the Troy air
Flower buds blossoming with color, buzzing bees, bright green blades of grass… these are the classic images that herald spring. But those aren’t the only signs of the changing seasons. For many people, itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, sneezing, and a runny nose also make an appearance this time of year. That’s because the prettiest parts of spring also release an abundance of pollen and allergens into the air – triggering the start of spring allergies.
Spring allergies and your vision
Although stuffy noses and other nasal symptoms tend to get most of the attention associated with hay fever (another name for spring allergies), ocular irritation is rather common. In the United States, millions of people visit their eye doctor because of spring allergies, particularly when the level of grass pollen is high. And although we love the flourishing nature of Troy, it may come with a price for your eyes – our green city is typically measured by allergy trackers as having medium-high levels of grass and tree pollen in the environment.
The most common ocular symptoms of spring allergies are:
- Swollen, puffy eyelids
- Watery eyes
- Sensitivity to light
Also called “allergic conjunctivitis”, we treat many patients yearly for this condition at Family Eye & Laser. What is the best treatment to soothe your symptoms? And how can you get rid of your spring allergies? Our Troy eye doctor shares some tips on how to recognize eye allergy and relieve your painful peepers.
Avoid the allergen that triggers your spring allergies in Troy
- Go on the defensive – avoid allergens. This is by and large the most significant action you can take to prevent eye irritation. However, since grass and tree pollen are the most common triggers, you’re likely scratching your head (and your itchy eyes) as you wonder how to successfully stay away from these widespread, airborne irritants. Before you lock yourself in your bedroom to wait for winter, our Troy optometrist has some easier solutions to recommend:
- First and foremost, don’t rub your itchy eyes! Rubbing your eyes is a great way to spread the pollen all over, exacerbating the irritation and itchiness.
- Close your windows when there is a high pollen count. Use a/c in your home, office, and car to keep the air around you clean and clear.
- Wear glasses and sunglasses when outdoors; they’ll help prevent pollen from contact with your eyes.
- If you need vision correction, stick to wearing glasses, not contact lenses. Contacts can make spring eye allergies worse, because the pollen sticks and accumulates on them.
- As soon as you return inside, rinse your eyes with saline drops and wash your hands well.
- Clean your floors with a damp mop, not a broom. Dry sweeping will only push any pollen that’s settled back up into the air.
Treatment for spring allergies in Troy
Some ocular symptoms can be managed well with over-the-counter drugs, especially if you have a mild case. Artificial tears eye drops are a great frontline treatment to keep your eye surface clean and help relieve itchy eyes. Decongestant eye drops may also help, but use them sparingly and with caution – prolonged use can worsen your condition.
Antihistamine eye drops, corticosteroid eye drops, NSAID eye drops, and mast cell stabilizer eye drops are all accepted short-term treatments for eye symptoms caused by spring allergies. These are all prescription drugs, so you will need to visit our Troy eye doctor (and possibly an allergist too) for an eye exam to decide the best medicine for your condition.
While some non-sedating oral histamines may also be helpful at relieving your itchy eyes and other irritating symptoms, they can also dry out your eyes and make the pain worse. If your spring allergies are extreme and get in the way of normal life, immunotherapy allergy shots or tablets may offer long-term relief.