Simple strategies to prevent springtime eye allergies

SAN DIEGO, CALIF (April 6th, 2015) - Across the U.S., people are eagerly anticipating warm spring weather after a particularly long and harsh winter. Birds are singing, trees and flowers are in bloom, and the air is filled with... allergy-inducing pollen.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from eye allergies, with symptoms that include itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, watery eyes, and red eyes. The most common culprit is pollen, microscopic particles released into the air by trees, grass, and weeds.

"When exposed to these allergens, cells in the eyes release histamines and other chemicals in an effort to protect the eyes," explains Sandy Feldman, MD, a San Diego-based physician and one of the nation's top ophthalmologists. "This chemical reaction causes blood vessels to swell and the eyes to become itchy, red and watery."

Eye allergies often affect the clear covering found on the front part of the eyeball, which is similar to the material lining the inside of the nose. Because the two areas are so similar, allergens can trigger an allergic response in both areas.

The best treatment for eye allergies? Minimizing exposure to allergens. Dr. Feldman offers some handy tips:

  • Stay indoors when pollen counts are high
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent pollens from entering the eyes
  • Keep your home as dust-free as possible
  • Try to avoid irritants such as cigarette smoke and air pollution
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses while allergy symptoms are present
  • Artificial tears and antihistamines can help alleviate symptoms short term
  • Wash your hands frequently to keep allergens out of your eyes

"Eye allergies can be extremely annoying and uncomfortable, but they usually cause no harm to the eyes," says Dr. Feldman. "If allergies cause you severe irritation or pain, or persist, be sure to see your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. Do not abuse over the counter eye drops."

About Sandy T. Feldman, MD

Sandy T. Feldman, MD is the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center - voted best LASIK center in San Diego by CityBeat Magazine in 2013 - and has successfully performed more than 20,000 refractive procedures. Her numerous awards include "Top Doc San Diego" and the Goldline Award, an honor granted to only 10 laser eye care providers in the U.S. each year, and she has been profiled in Forbes, Newsweek, and other respected publications. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Ophthalmic Surgeons, as well as a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. For more information, please visit clearvieweyes.com.