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Ocular Allergies: Do Your Eyes Resist Spring?

It’s spring, and for most people that means sunshine and budding trees. But for one in five people, it means something else: Your eyeballs are about to become your worst enemy.

Here are some quick tips for surviving allergy season.

Know Your Enemy
Also known as allergic conjunctivitis, ocular allergies happen when allergens such as pollen (or non-seasonal allergens such as dust mites or pet dander) irritate the membrane covering the eye. Symptoms include swelling, burning, itching, and watering of the eyes. Knowing just what you are allergic to can go a long way to help you avoid a reaction.

Take Precautions
Regardless of what you’re allergic to, there are some easy precautions you can take during allergy season to help reduce the likelihood and severity of attacks. The folks at Dr. Oz suggest wearing sunglasses or a hat with a wide brim to reduce the amount of pollen or other allergens that blow into your eyes. Double down on protecting your eyes by ensuring you wear polarized lenses with UV protection, such as Xperio UV lenses. Washing your hands regularly will reduce the chances of a reaction if you rub your eyes, and keeping your windows closed will cut down on the amount of pollen that enters your house.

Keep It Simple
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. If your eyes do start acting up despite your precautions, applying saline drops can help wash the allergens away from the ocular lining. Additionally, WebMD recommends a cold compress to help reduce the swelling which can cause itching, redness and pain. And over the counter allergy medications can provide short term relief as well.

Doctor’s Orders
All allergies are not created equal, of course. While these simple precautions and treatments may be effective for most people, in some cases more powerful solutions are required. Prescription antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers can reduce or eliminate many ocular allergies, while immunotherapy regimens can produce long-term results. If your allergic reactions are severe or persistent, you should consult your doctor to determine the best course of action for you.

If you’re unsure what triggers your own ocular allergies, consider consulting an allergist in addition to your eye care professional.