The first day of spring in 2019 is Wednesday, March 20th.  If you live in the lovely state of Kentucky, you know two things:

Number 1: You’re ready for Spring because it’s STILL snowing in the month of March!
Number 2: Spring has essentially already started! I don’t know about you guys, but I already have hyacinth, daffodil, and tulip leaves sprouting!  While I’m extremely happy to start having warmer days and beautiful flowers, I’m also dreading it because of what pollen does for my allergies.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, it’s estimated that around 50 million people are affected with allergies. A lot of us know the typical allergy symptoms:  sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose.  But did you know that the same allergens that make you sneeze can also affect your eyes?

Eye allergies, medically known as allergic conjunctivitis, are quite common (regardless if you live in Kentucky or not). Signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include the following:

  • redness
  • burning
  • tearing
  • itching
  • eyelid swelling

These can be caused by:

  • pollen
  • mold
  • dust
  • pet dander
  • smoke
  • perfumes
  • preservatives in certain eye drops

Allergic reactions to bug bites or bee stings typically do not affect the eyes as much as airborne pathogens.

So, how do we prevent and treat eye allergies?

  • Avoid allergens: if you know the pollen count is going to be high for the day, consider staying inside. Close your house and/or car windows and run the air conditioner. Also, consider getting an air filter for your home to help trap allergens and keep your household air cleaner.
  • Consider removing contact lenses: allergens are attracted to and can accumulate on the surface of contact lenses, so consider removing them and wearing eyeglasses. You could also consider switching to daily disposable contact lens to keep eye allergies at bay; if neither of those options sound appealing to you, consider wearing sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Over-the-counter medications: artificial tears are a great start and can help flush irritants out of the eye; avoid eye drops that “get the red out” as they only temporarily mask issues and do not get rid of them all together; additionally, there are decongestant eye drops that are effective and oral antihistamines can help as well.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes: it can often irritate them more.

If you have tried these suggestions and are still bothered with redness, burning, tearing, and itching, call our office for an appointment. Dr. Burns will determine if your eyes need a prescription drop, such as a steroid, or if your condition is something other than chronic allergic conjunctivitis.

Happy Spring Forward, Peeps!!