HOW TO CARE FOR OUR EYES DURING ALLERGY SEASON

HOW TO CARE FOR OUR EYES DURING ALLERGY SEASON

Seasonal allergies develop when the body's immune system overreacts to something in the environment, usually during spring, summer or fall or in the case of the Nigerian clime, during dry season when certain plants pollinate. During these seasons, the eyes are more sensitive and overreact to the allergens in the clime. Allergens such as dust, pollens from trees, weeds, plants, and fungi (mold) spores that occur more commonly in dry seasons or during harmattan cause people who have allergies to experience symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, and red, watery and itchy eyes.

Seasonal ocular allergies are also known as allergic conjunctivitis. Symptoms of eye allergies include:

  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery or runny eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Soreness, burning, or pain
  • Sensitivity to light

During allergy season, the first thing to do to protect your eyes is to

  • avoid your triggers. Stay indoors, especially on windy days when pollen counts are highest. Close the windows and use an air conditioner or even an air purifier.
  • If you have to go out, or you work in an outdoor setting, wear big eyeglasses or sunglasses to block pollen from getting into your eyes.

Other ways to care for your eyes include:

  • Sterile saline rinses, eye wash and eye lubricants which can soothe irritated eyes and help flush out allergens.
  • Non prescription medications, sold over the counter can give short-term relief of some allergy symptoms. These are mostly artificial tears and decongestant eyedrops. Decongestant eyedrops should not be used for more than a week so that they don’t make things worse.
  • Prescription medications can give both long-term and short-term relief. These include antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers and steroid eyedrops. Steroid eyedrops are usually used for a short period because they can cause serious side effects. Oral antihistamines can also help and they provide longer-lasting relief. Keep in mind, though, that oral antihistamines can make a dry eye condition worse. 
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