Although I’m not 100% sure that spring has actually sprung yet, one thing is for sure – allergy season is in full swing. From a pure ocular perspective, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between allergic conjunctivitis and all the other types of red eyes that are out there. Classic ocular allergy symptoms are red, itchy, and watery eyes that can sometimes be accompanied by swollen eyelids. Many patients will also have a concurrent runny nose with sneezing that appears every season and that makes the diagnosis easier. Outdoor allergens tend to be grasses and tree pollen in the spring and ragweed in late summer/early fall, while indoor allergies (unfortunately annoying all year round) are molds, dust, and pet dander.
Okay, so I have allergies, now what do I do? The best treatment is prevention of the allergic reaction. This of course means not going outside during peak pollen times and/or living in a bubble. Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to do that, so some more practical ideas are running a HEPA filter in the house to trap allergens, keeping windows closed and the AC running, and making sure to shower at night so that when you sleep you are not rolling around breathing the pollen stuck in your hair. Washing bedding and towels frequently as well as dusting and vacuuming is key in removing allergens that are brought in from outdoors as well as the ones that lurk inside. Wraparound sunglasses are great not only for UV protection, but for physically stopping allergens from blowing into your eyes.
In the next blog we will discuss what to do if simple avoidance of allergens is not enough to prevent symptoms.
Chani Miller, OD