Seasonal Ocular Allergies

How are your eyes feeling? Are they itchy? Do you have swelling, burning? Do you feel like you always want to rub your eyes?

You may be experiencing ocular allergies. Some people have seasonal allergies that bother only in the spring or fall, while others have perennial allergies that can be a problem all year long.

Seasonal allergies account for more than half of all ocular allergies. The allergy stems from exposure to such allergens as dust mites, pollens, and molds. Symptoms tend to improve with cool, rainy weather, and worsen again with warm, dry weather.

The hallmark symptom for most patients is the itch, which can be mild or very prominent. Other symptoms can be heat, pain, redness, swelling, tearing, irritation, stinging, burning, sensitivity to light, and “eye fatigue”. All of these symptoms can lead to patients wanting to rub their eyes, which will actually make the allergic reaction worse!

There are many treatment options available to help with seasonal allergies. The first thing is to avoid as many allergens as practically possible. Obviously, staying inside when pollen levels are highest will help, but isn’t very practical. It can be helpful to wash face and hands and then rinse eyes with a saline rinse after you have been outdoors to keep allergens away from the eyes.

Secondly, artificial tears or ocular lubricants can help to flush away allergens and to moisturize the eyes. We recommend using a non-preserved lubricant and also to chill them in the fridge before use, it makes them even more soothing. Chilled eye lubricants feel really good on your allergy eyes, but you can also soothe them with cool compresses placed over the eyes.

Some patients require more complex solutions for allergy symptoms. You may need non-prescription allergy eye drops or prescription allergy eye drops to help the eye fight its reaction to allergens. Others may need oral, systemic allergy medications, either non-prescription or prescription to alleviate symptoms.

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