If you are experiencing red eyes, itchy eyes or watery eyes it could be due to spring eye allergies. For some, March begins pollen season, which means uncomfortable symptoms such as red eyes, itchy eyes, stinging, burning and watery eyes. Seasonal eye allergies are caused by an influx of tree and flower pollen into the air and can result in a severe impact on everyday functioning for those that suffer from them.
What can you do to protect your eyes this pollen season? If at all feasible, try to reduce exposure to allergens which means remaining indoors, in particular when the pollen count is high. Keeping windows closed, using air conditioning and wearing full-coverage shades when exposed to the elements can also help to protect your eyes from irritants in the atmosphere. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can be used cleanse irritants from the air inside your home or office.
Nevertheless, for the majority of us that must go outside, there are medicines that can reduce symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes or watery eyes. It's possible that a simple over-the-counter eye drop is all that's needed to soothe and alleviate itchy eyes or red eyes and flush out allergens. Medicines with antihistamines, decongestants or mast cell stabilizers can alleviate irritation of the eyes and treat non-eye related symptoms such as stuffed or runny nose and sneezing. Eye drops often work better than pills or liquid medications to alleviate eye symptoms.
Approximately 20% of the U.S. population, or 54 million people are affected by allergies, almost half of which are allergic eye disease. Eye allergies are often hereditary and result from an over-sensitivity to an irritant that has entered the eye regardless of whether it is harmful. The eye releases histamines and other immune mediators which result in excessive tears, itching, burning, redness and irritation.
One of the most important things to remember is, don’t rub red, itchy eyes. This will only exacerbate the irritation. Since some of the effective medications do need a prescription, if over-the-counter solutions are not working for you, see your eye doctor.