Protect your eyes from the allergy season

Allergies usually bring about the sneezing and nasal congestion in a lot of us, but it can also affect your eyes. Luckily, eye allergies can be treated with the same self-help strategies used to clear out the nasal allergies.

According to WebMD.com, one in five Americans suffer from eye allergies – also known as ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis. The symptoms pose “little threat” to eyesight and are otherwise just plain annoying.

So what happens if you take over-the-counter allergy medicine and you continue to have red, itchy and puffy eyes? You should seek help from a doctor as these can be caused by infections and other conditions that could damage your eyesight.

You have seasonal allergies if your allergies only happen at certain times of the year. These are caused usually by pollen in the air from grass and trees. Perennial allergies happen throughout the year and are caused by pet dander and dust mites.

What can you do to control eye allergies?

Try staying indoors when pollen count is at its highest, such as mid-morning and early evening, and close the windows and run the air conditioner. Wear sunglasses if you do decide to go outside.

You should also limit your exposure to dust mites and wash your bedding frequently. It’s recommended you clean your floors with a damp mop and replace rugs and carpets if you have pets.

It’s difficult, but try not to rub your eyes when you start having symptoms. It’ll only make the symptoms worse.

If these at-home remedies, seek help from a doctor. There are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can provide some relief.

The doctors at Performance Eyecare are available to help ease your eye allergies and to rule out any eye infections. If you begin to have symptoms, please don’t wait to schedule an appointment to see us.

Causes Of Eye Allergies

Many allergens (substances that can evoke an allergic response) are in the air, where they come in contact with your eyes and nose. Airborne allergens include pollen, mold, dust and pet dander. Other causes of allergies, such as certain foods or bee stings, do not typically affect the eyes the way airborne allergens do. Adverse reactions to certain cosmetics or drugs such as antibiotic eyedrops also may cause eye allergies.

Similar to processes that occur with other types of allergic responses, the eye may overreact to a substance perceived as harmful even though it may not be. For example, dust that is harmless to most people can cause excessive tear production and mucus in eyes of overly sensitive, allergic individuals. Eye allergies are often hereditary.

Allergies can trigger other problems, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) and asthma. Most of the more than 22 million Americans who suffer from allergies also have allergic conjunctivitis, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Allergy signs and symptoms

Common signs of allergies include: red, swollen, tearing or itchy eyes; runny nose; sneezing; coughing; difficulty breathing; itchy nose, mouth or throat, and headache from sinus congestion.

What causes eye allergies?

Many allergens are in the air, where they come in contact with your eyes and nose. Airborne allergens include pollen, mold, dust and pet dander. Other causes of allergies, such as certain foods or bee stings, do not typically affect the eyes the way airborne allergens do. Adverse reactions to certain cosmetics or drugs such as antibiotic eyedrops also may cause eye allergies.

Eye allergy treatment

Avoidance. The most common “treatment” is to avoid what’s causing your eye allergy. Itchy eyes? Keep your home free of pet dander and dust, and stay inside with the air conditioner on when a lot of pollen is in the air. If you have central air conditioning, use a high quality filter that can trap most airborne allergens and replace it frequently.

Medications. If you’re not sure what’s causing your eye allergies, or you’re not having any luck avoiding them, your next step will probably be medication to alleviate the symptoms.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications each have their advantages; for example, over-the-counter products are often less expensive, while prescription ones are often stronger.

Eyedrops are available as simple eye washes, or they may have one or more active ingredients such as antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers. Antihistamines relieve many symptoms caused by airborne allergens, such as itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing.

Decongestants clear up redness. They contain vasoconstrictors, which make the blood vessels in your eyes smaller, lessening the apparent redness. They treat the symptom, not the cause.

In fact, with extended use, the blood vessels can become dependent on the vasoconstrictor to stay small. When you discontinue the eyedrops, the vessels actually get bigger than they were in the first place. This process is called rebound hyperemia, and the result is that your red eyes worsen over time.

Some products have ingredients that act as mast cell stabilizers, which alleviate redness and swelling. Mast cell stabilizers are similar to antihistamines. But while antihistamines are known for their immediate relief, mast cell stabilizers are known for their long-lasting relief.

Other medications used for allergies include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. In some cases, combinations of medications may be used.

Immunotherapy. You may also benefit from immunotherapy, in which an allergy specialist injects you with small amounts of allergens to help your body gradually build up immunity to them.

Eye allergies and contact lenses

Even if you are generally a successful contact lens wearer, allergy season can make your contacts uncomfortable. Airborne allergens can get on your lenses, causing discomfort. Allergens can also stimulate the excessive production of natural substances in your tears that bind to your contacts, adding to your discomfort and allergy symptoms.

Ask your eye doctor about eyedrops that can help relieve your symptoms and keep your contact lenses clean. Certain drops can discolor or damage contact lenses, so ask your doctor first before trying out a new brand.

Another alternative is daily disposable contact lenses, which are discarded nightly. Because you replace them so frequently, these lenses are unlikely to develop irritating deposits that can build up over time and cause or heighten allergy-related discomfort.

Dry Eyes and Allergen Problems? We Can Help!

There are many unpleasant feelings in this world – an itch you can’t reach to scratch, having a hangnail or two, and, of course, dry, itchy eyes that never seem to go away!

Allergen problems are oftentimes hereditary and happen due to processes that are associated with other types of allergic responses. When an allergic reaction takes place, your eyes may be overreacting to something that they perceive as harmful, even though it usually isn’t harmful. These usually harmless substances that bother your eyes so much are called allergens!

One very common allergen that most people experience problems with is dust. It is harmless to most people, but in allergic individuals, dust can cause an excessive production of mucus and tears in the eyes.

Did you know that about 30% to 50% of all residents in the United States have allergy symptoms and problems? About 75% of those symptoms also affect the eyes!

What Are The Symptoms?

How do you know you are experiencing trouble with allergens? Here are the typical symptoms one experiences when combating allergens:

  • Red, swollen, or itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Itchy nose, mouth, or throat
  • Headache from sinus congestion
  • Fatigue and a lack of sleep

How To Deal With Dry Eyes

What can you do if you’re experiencing dry eyes and problems with allergies? We recommend the following tips to help you through allergen issues:

Avoid The Triggers – One of the most common pieces of advice given to those who suffer from allergens is to avoid whatever causes your eye allergy to flare up as much as you possibly can. If you have dry, itchy eyes, do your best to keep your home free of dust and pet dander, and remember to keep your pets off of the furniture. When the pollen count is high, stay indoors with the air conditioner on. During the cold months, use high quality furnace filters, which will trap common allergens. Be sure also to replace your furnace filters frequently.

Take Medicine – If you’re unsure what’s causing your eye allergies to flare up or you cannot avoid the allergens that affect you, your next best bet is to probably take some medicine to at least help alleviate the symptoms you might be experiencing. You can also take over-the-counter drops, but be sure to ask your doctor which kind of eye drop is right for you!

Use Eye Drops – Nothing feels as refreshing and alleviating as eye drops to dry, itchy eyes. Eye drops may have one or more active ingredients to help with symptoms such as antihistamines, decongestants, or mast cell stabilizers that inhibit inflammation. Be sure to talk to your doctor or to me about using eye drops for your dry eyes!

Talk to Me If You Wear Contact Lenses – You may generally wear contact lenses pretty successfully, but allergies can make your contacts uncomfortable or even unbearable. Airborne allergens can get on your lenses and can also stimulate the excessive production of natural substances in your tears. These can bind to your contacts and cause blurry vision and even more discomfort to occur. Ask us about eye drops that can help relieve your symptoms and also help keep your contact lenses clean.

Try Daily Disposable Contact Lenses – If you wear contact lenses and experience allergy problems, you may want to consider acquiring daily disposable contact lenses, which you discard at the end of the day. Because you replace these types of contacts much more frequently than usual, you are unlikely to develop irritating deposits that can build up over time and cause or increase any allergy-related discomfort you may feel.

If you’re experiencing dry eyes and allergy problems and would like to make an appointment, give your local Performance Eyecare office a call or schedule your appointment online. You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy eyes – just come see us, and we can make your eyes feel so much better!

Eye Care Tips for Vacations

With the summer coming to an end, many families have plans for one more family trip. If so, there are some eye care travel tips you should know about before you go.

It’s always important to carry an extra pair of contact lenses, eyeglasses and sunglasses when you plan on going away – even if it’s just a short weekend trip. The extra pair will come in handy in case you lose your original pair or they get damaged. Not only is it important to pack an extra pair, but if you wear contact lenses it’s definitely important to remember your contact lens solution. If you are flying to your destination, be sure to check-ahead at the rules for carrying on liquids so you can pack accordingly.

It’s all fun in the sun, until you forget your sunglasses. Be sure to bring sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. It’s likely that sunglasses will be handy considering we spend a lot of time outside during vacations.

Keep yourself from suffering from dry eyes if you are flying or visiting a dry climate. These two things can irritate your eyes, so be sure to bring moistening eye drops to help prevent any irritation. It might be best if you wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses on flights.

Consider your eye health during activities such as swimming. You shouldn’t wear your contact lenses while swimming because it increases your risk of an eye infection from bacteria. You should wear goggles when you’re in the water.

Schedule an appointment at Performance Eyecare before you leave for your trip, so you can be sure to have the correct eye prescription and protection needed. We carry the latest designer styles in eyeglasses and sunglasses from brands such as Lafont, Oakley, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Maui Jim, OGI and many more.

We also have a special in-office eyeglass lens creation. This allows us to give you clear and comfortable vision shortly after an eye examination.