For many Americans who suffer from allergies, warmer weather brings the onset of sneezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes.
According to the Nebraska Optometric Association, eye allergies, also called “allergic conjunctivitis,” are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens that get in the eyes and cause inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner eyelid.
While eye allergies can affect anyone, spring can be particularly hard on contact lens wearers.
Extended wear time and infrequent lens replacement are two of the main reasons contact lens wearers face more prevalent symptoms. Dr. Steve Miller, NOA president, recommends contact lens wearers consider the following tips:
• Talk to an optometrist about changing the cleaning method or using single-use lenses.
• If possible, reduce contact lens wearing time. Otherwise, use eye drops.
Almost half (44 percent) of allergy suffers use antihistamines or other medications to treat their symptoms.
While antihistamines can help with typical symptoms like runny noses and sneezing, the medication can make ocular symptoms worse by reducing tear quality and quantity.
Fortunately, eye allergies can be curtailed or prevented by following these recommendations:
• Don’t touch or rub the eyes.
• Wash hands often with soap.
• Wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water.
• Avoid sharing, and in some cases, wearing eye makeup.
• Never share contact lenses.
Beyond discussing allergy relief with an optometrist, the Nebraska Optometric Association also recommends adults have yearly eye exams.
Based on an individual’s eye health and severity of their eye allergies, the eye doctor may recommend more frequent visits.