According to the Wisconsin Optometric Association (WOA), many people suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, which is the inflammation of the tissue lining the eyelids (conjunctiva) due to a reaction from allergy-causing substances such as pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander. The American Optometric Association’s (AOA) seventh annual American Eye-Q® survey found that the most commonly reported symptoms associated with seasonal allergies are itching, watering, redness or irritation, and dryness in the eyes. In addition, 42 percent of those who responded stated that they suffered from seasonal eye allergies and 40 percent reported experiencing dry eyes.
While antihistamines can help with typical allergy symptoms such as runny noses and sneezing, the medication could actually make ocular symptoms worse. Patients with allergy symptoms should see their eye doctor. In most cases, allergy-related conjunctivitis can be relieved with prescriptions or over-the-counter eye drops, depending on the patient and his or her medical history.
Although eye allergies can affect anyone, spring can be particularly hard on those who wear contact lenses. Extended wear time and infrequent lens replacement are two of the main reasons contact lens wearers face more prevalent symptoms during this season. Those who wear contact lenses may consider the following to make the spring season more comfortable:
• reduce contact lens wearing time whenever possible;
• speak with an optometrist about changing lens cleaning method or the option of wearing daily disposable contact lenses; and
• use eye drops as prescribed by an eye doctor.
While eye allergies can be a nuisance, affecting job performance as well as leisure and sporting activities, symptoms can be both curtailed and prevented by avoiding touching or rubbing the eyes, washing hands often with soap and water, washing bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens, avoiding the sharing of (and in some cases the wearing of) eye makeup, and by never sharing contact lenses or contact lens cases with someone else.
To find an optometrist in the area, click here.