‘Tis the season - allergy season, that is. Seasonal allergies inevitably strike millions of Americans each year, particularly as the world around us begins to revive after a long winter. Unfortunately, our poor eyes can fall victim to the effects of allergy season as well, resulting in discomfort. So if your eyes don’t feel “right” this season, keep reading - your symptoms may very well be the result of seasonal allergies.
Understanding The What, How & Why Of Allergies
While we think of allergies as something that makes us sneeze, our eyes are also often subject to allergy symptoms. Red, itchy, burning, and watery eyes and swollen eyelids are common symptoms of seasonal allergies - right along with sneezing, sniffling, and nasal congestion.
Why do these symptoms happen? The answer has to do with our biology. What we refer to as “allergies” are the result of our own body’s immune system going into overdrive. The human immune system is designed to respond to and kill off viruses, bacteria, and similar invaders. When we suffer from seasonal allergies, however, our immune system responds to allergens in a similar way as it would respond to a virus or bacteria - creating allergic symptoms as the body fights off the “invaders”.
Since different bodies perceive different substances as allergens, one person may react to an allergen while another person doesn’t react at all. Seasonal allergies, for example, are often triggered by high levels of pollen, as opposed to dust or animal dander.
Whatever your allergy trigger may be, however, the symptoms are very real and can be very uncomfortable. Worse, in some cases, they can contribute to your risk of developing an eye infection. Which begs the question - what can be done about them?
Addressing Allergies: What You Can Do This Season
The good news is that there are lots of ways you can cut down on your exposure to allergens, if you know you’re living with allergies. From allergy-friendly bedding to timing your outings based on pollen counts, simple adjustments in your daily routine will make a lot of difference in terms of your exposure and reactions to allergens.
Of course, to change your exposure to an allergen, you’ll need to know what you’re reacting to. So if it’s not clear exactly what you’re allergic to, just speak with your primary care doctor about getting an allergy test to find out the source of your allergic reactions.
While allergies can’t be cured, they can be addressed and managed. There are even medications and symptom treatments and tricks that will address any eye-related symptoms you develop throughout the season, which will go a long way in making you and your eyes much more comfortable.
But, again, it never hurts to visit a doctor, especially if you’ve never dealt with allergy related symptoms before! While seasonal allergies are problematic right now, it could very well turn out that you’re also allergic to certain kinds of eye drops. Getting a professional opinion will help you avoid finding this out in a much more uncomfortable manner. Talking to a doctor will also be beneficial if it turns out that your lifestyle adjustments and OTC medications just won’t do the trick and bring your eyes relief; if this happens, your doctor will be able to prescribe stronger medicines or even allergy shots.
Got questions or concerns about your eyes and how to take care of them during allergy season? Feel to contact us and schedule an appointment to discuss and address your concerns and eye health!