There’s Something in the Air… Allergies!
For some people, allergies are seasonal…affecting them only during specific times of the year. For others, it can be year round. Ocular allergies are caused by tree and flower pollen, dust mites, smoke, and dander in the air and can have a severe impact on everyday life for those that suffer from them. Ocular allergies occur when the mucous membrane (called the “conjunctiva”) that lines your eyes comes in contact with an allergen. This contact automatically causes your immune system to become active. Instead of just letting the allergen enter freely, your body produces antibodies to fight off what it perceives to be an invading substance. The antibodies trigger chemicals, including histamine, which cause allergic symptoms.
The symptoms include itchy, red, watery eyes and swollen or puffy eyelids. These allergic eye symptoms are collectively called allergic conjunctivitis, or ocular allergies. Often times, allergy sufferers will also experience nasal allergies in addition to ocular allergies. So, while your eyes itch and burn, it’s common to also be sneezing and blowing your nose. Around 20% of the United States population suffers from ocular allergies. As we spring into summer, it’s helpful to know how to alleviate the symptoms!
Tips to lessen your allergies and protect your eyes:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes. Rubbing red, itchy eyes will only intensify the irritation. Instead, try a cool compress. Wearing shades can also help protect your eyes by blocking some of the allergens in the air.
- Limit your exposure to the outdoors by remaining indoors. Use an air conditioner during warm months but don’t forget to clean the filters. Use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to cleanse the irritants from the air.
- Clean your floors with a damp cloth rather than sweeping, which tends to kick up the allergens.
- Reduce allergens in your home by washing pillows and sheets often. Consider using allergen impermeable pillow cases
- Have your children change their clothes after a day outside playing to reduce bringing allergens inside.
- Visit www.Pollen.com to check the day’s allergy count. If it’s high, plan a day indoors.
Surviving allergy season can be done through awareness, education, and by taking pro-active steps towards ocular health. We must all remember to take precautions by following the tips above, continuing to educate ourselves, and most importantly – by having a safe (and fun!) summer!
If you suffer from ocular allergies, we can help you control the symptoms! Schedule an appointment today www.westgaeyecare.com and start getting some relief!