With Spring right around the corner, many people will be looking forward to the warmer temperatures, colourful blooms and baby wildlife. However, spring isn’t always a great time of year if you suffer from allergies. So we’ve put together some ways to help and treat those puffy or itchy eyes that may be preventing you from getting out and about this season.
- AVOID THE ALLERGEN
The best way to control allergies is to minimise your exposure to the allergens you are sensitive too. This might be a certain type of pollen, or if you’re not sure, you can always consult your doctor to identify exactly what you may be allergic too. A good pair of wraparound sunglasses are a useful way to shield your eyes from pollen exposure.
- DON’T RUB YOUR EYES
When your eyes are itchy, your first instinct is to rub them. You must resist the urge to do this, because rubbing actually simulates the mast cells and cause them to release more histamine, which can make your symptoms worse.
- REMOVE CONTACT LENSES
You may find that your contact lenses can become uncomfortable during a flare up of your allergies. Try switching to glasses or giving your eyes a rest from contact lenses to help relieve symptoms. Even regular cleaning can help – as contacts can get deposits and a build up of allergens on the lens surface. Daily disposable contact lenses are also a good option to decrease the likelihood of allergic reactions.
- USE A COLD COMPRESS
Applying an ice pack for short periods of time can help soothe the eyes and reduce swelling. Lubricating eye drops can also be stored in the fridge and used when needed. The cold drops will help to moisturise the eyes as well as help wash out allergens.
- TRY MEDICATED EYE DROPS
If you’re finding no relief, visit your optometrist and they can prescribe you with medicated eye drops to help control your allergies. One of the most effective eye drops available contains a combination of an antihistamine and a mast cell stabiliser. This can be used to relieve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory eyedrops can also help reduce itchiness.
- LIMIT THE USE OF DECONGESTANTS
Although decongestant eye drops can often be marketed as eye drops for ‘red eyes’ and are available over the counter, these work by constricting the blood vessels, making the eyes appear white. This is useful for a one-off event, but using decongestants for more than 2-3 days can cause a rebound effect, and your eyes will become more red after using them.
If you want to find out ways to help your specific allergies, book a consultation with an optometrist at Mortimer Hirst for a comprehensive assessment and tailored management plan.
Words: Kieran Chong, Optometrist MORTIMERHIRST.CO.NZ