Did you know fall is the “other” eye allergy season for many folks? One of the primary causes for fall allergies is the common plant ragweed, which is found all over the country and grows right here in Summit County. Ragweed can produce tons of pollen over one season and is also widely distributed due to the wind.
Ragweed generally peaks in mid-September but begins to ramp up in late summer. For your best chance at avoiding ocular allergies, preventative treatments should be started before symptoms arise. For tips and tricks to avoid allergies continue reading!
As ragweed pollen is picked up and carried on the cool mountain winds it can easily be deposited into our eyes during our daily routine causing nagging symptoms. Common symptoms of ocular allergies may include itchy, red, and watering eyes; all of which are natural responses by our bodies defense system against allergens. Though our eyes may try, they can't keep up with the daily dose of pollen and may require medication to reduce symptoms and improve comfort.
While some folks are more prone to allergies, they can affect anyone at any stage of life. It is particularly common to develop new allergies after moving to a new environment as our bodies adapt to their new surroundings and encounter new allergens.
Contact lens wearers have an increased incidence of developing ocular allergies due to pollen becoming stuck to lenses and repeatedly being inserted into the eye. This repeated exposure can cause irritation of the eyelids, which may cause blurry vision as your eyelid interacts more with the contact lens than usual. If you are prone to allergies it is important to use a quality contact lens solution such as ClearCare, or to discuss daily disposable contacts with your doctor. Daily disposable contact lenses are inserted in the morning, removed in the evening, and disposed of; thus eliminating the chance of re-inserting pollen covered lenses the next day.
The aforementioned symptoms, while not sight-threatening, can be very irritating and have a profound effect on our ocular comfort and vision. So what can you do to fight the havoc ragweed and other allergens wreak on your eyes? Here are a few suggestions:
Eating right! Proper nutrition can help you fight off symptoms of allergies. Think broccoli, kale, pumpkin, carrots, celery…foods that are rich in carotenoids are great for battling your allergies. Plus, a healthy and well-balanced diet is good for your ocular and systemic health all around!
Over the counter allergy drops such as Zaditor or Alrex are also a great place to start. For best results, these should be started before symptoms occur. In cases resistant to OTC treatments prescription strength allergy eye drops or steroid eye drops may be required.
Oral antihistamines such as Zyrtec or Allegra may also be beneficial but, just as with the eye drops, should be started before symptoms arise.
Make an appointment with us at EyeTech Optometry to see if a preventative medication is appropriate for your situation. This can often help before it becomes a problem. Drs. Ward or Philpy may be able to spot common signs of ocular allergies before symptoms manifest, preventing future problems.
Stay indoors when pollen is at its peak (often in the morning). Checking pollen counts in your area will help keep you informed.
Consider switching to glasses if you’re a contact lens-wearer, at least for the allergy season. Or look into daily disposable contacts as an alternative—the less time you wear your contacts during allergy season, the better.
Products such as Visine should be avoided at all costs, as they may make the problem worse instead of better in the long run. Feel free to call at any time to for suggestions on which drops to use, and which to avoid.
Make an appointment today to see one of our friendly doctors if you are experiencing any of these allergy symptoms and we will get you on track to optimal ocular health.