If you experience itchy, water, or red eyes during certain seasons throughout the year, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year.
Fortunately there are a number of ways to tackle these unpleasant effects. Dr. Hollenbeck of Grand Rapids Ophthalmology’s Greenville office provides the following tips to treat—and help prevent—allergic symptoms.
Hide out… for a bit
That fine yellow powder carried from plant to plant by the wind, insects, birds, and other animals seems so harmless but can be so troublesome. When possible, stay indoors and keep windows closed when pollen counts are highest—typically mid-morning and early evening. If you’re on the go, protect your eyes by keeping your car windows closed and turning up the air conditioning instead.
Keep your shades on
It’s inevitable that you’ll be spending more time outdoors during the coming months. Whether you’re simply relaxing or doing something more active, you can minimize the effects of pollen exposure by wearing sunglasses (or eyeglasses). If your eyes do get irritated, try to avoid touching them—it will only worsen conditions.
Mold allergies can affect your eyes in the home and the yard. Combat exposure by keeping your house clean and dry. Mop up spills and leaks quickly, and regularly clean garbage cans, refrigerator drip pans and gutters. You might also want to consider getting a HEPA filter for your furnace and air conditioning units, which captures up to 99.97% of microscopic airborne allergens.
Rest the right way
It’s not just the outdoors that can bring eye-related annoyances. Perennial indoor allergens including dust mites can be irritating, too. Limit exposure and sleep soundly on pillows encased in allergen-impermeable covers. You’ll also want to wash bedding frequently and in hot water that’s at least 130° F. Steam cleaning sheets is just as effective as hot water washing for killing dust mites.
Talk to your eye doctor
If any of the above symptoms persist, get in touch with your eye doctor. Your eye care professional can recommend allergy medications to relieve itchy or irritated eyes. Over-the-counter artificial tears can also be very helpful in alleviating or reducing symptoms.
Grand Rapids Ophthalmology now offers diagnostic testing to determine the underlying cause of your eye allergies or irritations. This test, which is typically covered by many major medical insurances, helps to characterize, or rule out, eye allergies when differentiating types of eye surface diseases such as dry eyes, eye allergies, and blepharitis (a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids) which can have similar signs and symptoms.
The testing will be done at our 7 Mile location in the mornings, the fourth week of every month.