Summertime Allergies and Your Eyes
Allergies may be to blame if your eyes feel itchy and uncomfortable during the summer months. Fortunately, you don't always have to stay indoors to keep your summer allergies under control. Your optometrist can recommend eye drops and other treatment options that will soothe your symptoms.
What Causes Summer Eye Allergies?
A simple misunderstanding is responsible for allergies. When a speck of pollen or mold enters your body through your eyes, mouth or nose, your immune system mistakenly decides that these harmless substances are a threat to your health. The body immediately begins producing histamines, chemicals that seek out and destroy allergens. Unfortunately, histamines also cause the symptoms you associate with allergies, including:
- Itchy, Red, Watery Eyes
- Stuffy Nose
- Runny Nose
- Swollen Eyelids
- Dark Circles Under the Eyes
Common allergens include mold, animal dander, dust, and pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. During the early to mid-summer, mold and grass and pollens are usually responsible for eye allergy symptoms. In late summer, ragweed, mugwort, thistle, and other weed pollens can trigger symptoms. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, mold thrives when the days are hot and humid, while ragweed and grass pollens become a problem during warm days/cool nights.
How to Manage Your Summer Eye Allergies
These tips can you reduce your allergy symptoms this summer:
- Check the Forecast. Weather websites often include information about allergen levels in your area. If mold or pollens are high, spend as much time as possible indoors. Pollen counts tend to be higher on dry, windy days.
- Use Your Air-Conditioner or Air Purifier. Fans blow allergens throughout your house. When allergen levels are high, it's best to close the windows and keep your home cool and comfortable with an air-conditioner. Both air-conditioners and air purifiers filter out allergens from the air.
- Wash, Clean, and Mop. Allergens enter your home through open doors and windows and hitch a ride on your clothing and shoes. Get rid of allergens by mopping floors, dusting furniture, and vacuuming carpeting, rugs and upholstered furniture often. Change your sheets every few days. Putting hypoallergenic covers on your pillows, mattress, comforter and box springs will keep dust and mold spores from triggering allergy symptoms. Does your dog or cat spend time outdoors? Before you bring your furry friend inside, run a moist washcloth over your pet's fur to remove allergens
- Buy a Dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove humidity from the air and reduce the amount of mold in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and other moist places. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends maintaining a 30% to 50% humidity level for your dehumidifier.
- Put on a Pair of Shades. Wear wraparound sunglasses to prevent allergens from entering your eyes. Eyeglasses and sunglasses are helpful too, although they don't provide quite as much protection as wraparound sunglasses.
Ask Your Eye Doctor About Eye Allergy Treatments
If making a few changes at home doesn't relieve your eye allergy symptoms, it's a good idea to pay a visit to your optometrist. He or she may recommend:
- Saline Eye Drops or Artificial Tears. Using these drops throughout the day washes away allergens before they can irritate your eyes.
- Over-the-Counter Eye Drops. These eye drops soothe itchiness and relieve redness. Check the label before purchasing the drops, as some types of eye drops should only be used for a few days, while others can be used longer.
- Oral Allergy Medication. Oral antihistamines and decongestants can also be helpful in treating summer allergies. Dry eye can be a side effect of oral antihistamines, according to a Review of Optometry article.
- Corticosteroid Eye Drops. If other medications don't help your symptoms, your eye doctor may prescribe corticosteroid eye drops to reduce inflammation.
- Allergy Shots. Allergy shots may be an option if you're still suffering from eye allergies. The shots contain tiny amounts of allergens and make your body less sensitive to the effects of the allergens.
Are you suffering from summer eye allergy symptoms? Get in touch with our office to make an appointment with our optometrist.
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: Seasonal Allergies, 12/28/2017
Review of Optometry: When to Prescribe an OTC Allergy Drop, 8/17/2020
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: Eye Allergy
American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Are Eye Allergies, 1/11/2022
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: Eye Allergies (Allergic Conjunctivitis), 10/2015