Every spring brings brighter days that we are delighted to be able to enjoy again. However, the change of season brings seasonal allergy-related discomforts to millions of people around the world.

Usually associated with sneezing, itchy and runny noses, seasonal allergies vary in symptoms and intensity. But what about your eyes? Actually, seasonal allergies particularly affect the eyes, causing redness, swelling, stinging, and watery eyes.

Thank goodness there are solutions! Eye care professionals are always on the lookout for the latest innovations to better advise and help the many people who deal with seasonal allergies. How are eyes affected? What are the various solutions to relieve symptoms throughout the season? OCUCALM invites you to dive into the subject.

How do seasonal allergies affect our eyes?

Throughout the seasons, the body is exposed to many allergens like dust and animal dander. However, as nature awakens in spring and the weather turns mild, pollen from plants, trees and ragweed is released into the air. These new allergens come into contact with our body, causing our immune system to defend itself by producing additional antibodies. The natural protection against this is due to the presence of a chemical compound derived from the amino acid histidine. It acts as a shield against these foreign proteins, causing reactions that affect our eyes. Depending on the intensity of the reaction to the allergens, some people will experience eye symptoms such as redness, irritation, excessive tearing, itching, or blurred vision.

Are they a cause of dry eye?

It goes without saying that seasonal allergy season can be unpleasant for some. The eye produces tears to act as a natural protective and antiseptic barrier. This way, the eyes are protected from external irritants and remain moist. However, during allergy season, our eyes are taxed. The sudden combination of allergens with other pollutants strongly contributes to decreasing tear production and causing dry eyes.

Keep in mind that dry eyes can have many causes. The best option is to start with an appointment with a professional to properly assess the type and severity of the problem.

What should you do if you wear contact lenses?

One of the symptoms of seasonal allergies is the discomfort experienced when wearing contact lenses. Allergens stick to the surface of the lenses, so the eyes are in direct contact with the cause of the symptoms. Fortunately, there are accessible and effective solutions to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms and make you feel better.

First, having good hygiene habits is essential. Take the time to clean your contact lenses properly. During this time, consider daily disposable lenses rather than biweekly or monthly lenses. This greatly reduces the accumulation of allergens on them and in your eyes.

Next, carry artificial tears or moisturizing drops specifically designed for seasonal allergy symptoms. This simple and practical solution will help relieve discomfort quickly on days when the pollen count is particularly high.

Relieving seasonal allergy symptoms through prevention and hygiene

As is often the case, prevention is part of the solution.

It’s important to minimize contact with allergens as much as possible. For example, stay indoors or close windows tightly when pollen counts are high.

Some tips to help relieve symptoms are to avoid rubbing your eyes and to use cold water compresses to soothe the itching.

Also, setting up and adopting a hygiene routine is very effective during allergy season. Eyelashes and eyelids play an important role in protecting the eyes, as they reduce the contact of dust and allergens with the surface of the eye. Properly cleaning the eye area provides a sense of comfort and reduces the onset of symptoms.

Antihistamines help tremendously in providing relief from seasonal allergies. However, remember that they also influence the regulation of ocular fluid secretion and the composition of the tear film. As a result, they could lead to dry eye symptoms.

When to see an eye care professional

If symptoms persist or worsen, make an appointment with your optometrist for a professional eye examination. They will be able to identify signs of allergy and dry eye, and exclude other causes of eye irritation or infection such as styes, chalazion, or conjunctivitis.

October 07, 2022 — Lucie Laurin