Each spring, many Americans find that the welcome changes of the seasons bring unwelcome discomfort of seasonal eye allergies. Symptoms generally manifest in the form of itchy and watery eyes, swollen eye lids, dry eye, or bloodshot eyes. According to the Michigan Optometric Association (MOA), irritation occurs when the eye comes in contact with common seasonal substances such as pollen, dander, smog, and mold. As part of the immune response, the chemical histamine is released. This causes the redness and the burning and itching sensation associated with eye allergies. The MOA recommends individuals who experience eye allergies visit their local eye doctor for a proper diagnosis, to receive the best treatment. This may range from over-the-counter allergy drops to prescriptive medicines.
The MOA offers the following tips to help alleviate the discomfort of seasonal eye allergies:
Maintain a healthy diet. Foods rich in antioxidants, including spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, and red peppers, help improve the immune system and combat the symptoms of eye allergies.
Use "preservative-free" lubricating eye drops. While antihistamines may help with typical symptoms such as runny noses and sneezing, doctors of optometry warn that those medications could make ocular symptoms worse by reducing tear quality and quantity. The MOA recommends using "preservative-free" eye drops or, if you wear contact lenses, rewetting drops.
Take fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and irritation.
Apply a cold compress. Using a cold compress on the eyes will provide quick, temporary relief from itching and redness by constricting the blood vessels that are releasing histamine in the eyes.
Source: Mary Kay Hauck Communications Coordinator Michigan Optometric Association Photo: stock.xchng