Spring is here and so is the pollen. For many of us, with or without allergies, the pollen can make us miserable causing uncontrollable itchy eyes and tearing.
This year the pollen count is higher than usual and more people, even those without pollen allergies, are going to suffer from allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis is the medical term describing the itchy and watery eyes caused by the pollen.
Dr. Shilpa Rose recently appeared on WUSA9’s “Check This Out” with Mikea Turner to explain why we suffer from eye allergies, what causes them and, more importantly, how we can get some relief from itchy and watery eyes.
Pollen is Everywhere
This year, due to a very slow warmup, we’ve had a condensed Spring. This means that the amount of pollen from the trees, grass and flowers is at record levels because of the shortened Spring.
The pollen gets in our eyes and on our eyelids, and in many of us, causing an allergic reaction. Even those of us without traditional allergies may suffer this year with itchy eyes. It’s unavoidable.
Just as our cars become covered with the yellow dusting of pollen, so do our eyes. Our eyes, particularly the cornea and the conjunctiva are particularly sensitive to pollen. The pollen can cause a huge allergic reaction that results in the itching and tearing.
Treatment for allergic conjunctivitis is aimed at reducing the exposure to pollen and controlling the allergic response.
Treatments for Allergic Conjunctivitis
Dr. Rose recommends some very simple solutions which you can implement yourself to reduce the symptoms of itchy eyes and tearing:
- Sunglasses – the bigger the better, provides a barrier to pollen getting in your eyes
- Artificial tears – use liberally to help wash out the pollen from your eyes
- Wash cloth – cold/warm use in shower or at sink, cleans and opens up tear ducts and optimizes the quality and quantity of your natural tears to defend against pollen
- Over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines – you may want to consult your doctor. Many can cause dryness. Remember to keep hydrated when using antihistamines
- Special masks will limit exposure to pollen
There are prescription remedies as well. You’ll have to contact your doctor for a prescription for:
- Prescription allergy eye drops
- Nasal sprays
- Oral medications
The cornea is the clear front portion of the eye where a contact lens is worn. The conjunctiva is the transparent outside lining of the coating of the eye. Both can react strongly to pollen.
If you are interested in relief from itchy eyes or simply want to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rose or Dr. Whitten at any of our locations, please call or email us!