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Eye Health: With Kentucky cities top of the
allergens list, take precautions to protect eyes

The yellow spots on the honey bee are pollen grains from the dandelion. In Kentucky, pollen is everywhere! (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The yellow spots on the honey bee are pollen grains from the dandelion. In Kentucky, pollen is everywhere! (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

By Dr. Dawn Stratton
KyForward columnist

Summertime … finally!
If your family is anything like mine, you are spending a lot of time outside. From sitting out at ball fields, to attending camps and working in the garden, we all love to be out when the sun is shining and the temps are nice.
But, unfortunately, the summer weather often brings allergies. In fact, places all around Lexington – including Louisville, Knoxville and Nashville – were ranked as the top cities for allergies by USA Today. Louisville was actually No. 1!
About 30-50 percent of U.S. residents have allergy symptoms and about 75 percent of those symptoms affect the eyes, reports All About Vision.
When an allergic reaction takes place, your eyes may be overreacting to a substance perceived as harmful. These substances are called allergens.
Allergies can trigger other problems, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) and asthma. 

Here’s my advice for staying in the clear this summer:
• Be an early bird! See your eye doctor before allergy symptoms start so you can learn how to reduce your sensitivity to allergens.
• Whenever possible, try to avoid what’s causing your eye allergies. Keep your home free of pet dander and dust, and keep pets off the furniture. Stay inside with the air conditioner on when a lot of pollen is in the air.
• Be hands off. Don’t rub your eyes when they itch. This will release more histamine and make your eye allergy symptoms worse.
• Consider purchasing an air purifier for your home and an allergen-trapping filter for your furnace.
• Use plenty of artificial tears to wash airborne allergens from your eyes. Ask your eye doctor for brand recommendations.
• To reduce the build-up of allergens on your lenses, cut down your contact lens wear or switch to daily disposable lenses.
• Wear wrap-around sunglasses to help shield your eyes from allergens, and drive with your windows closed during allergy season.
• Check the map! The AccuWeather daily pollen count map is designed to help allergy sufferers, allergists and eye doctors determine the relative risk of allergy symptoms each day.
The map is for overall pollen count. Your risk of allergy symptoms will depend on the specific type of airborne pollen for which you are sensitive.
However, generally when the overall pollen forecast is “High” or “Very High,” most seasonal allergy sufferers are likely to experience symptoms. You can find the AccuWeather map here.


Dr. Dawn Stratton, O.D., is the founder of Stratton Eyes. She is a graduate of Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and earned her Doctor of Optometry in 1994. Based in Lexington, Dr. Stratton is a member of American Optometric Association, the Kentucky Optometric Association, the National Association of Professional Women and the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists. She also provides eye exams for patients at the Hope Center, Room at the Inn and The Nest. Visit Stratton-Eyes.com for more information or call 859-245-2020 or email office@strattoneyes.com. You can also find the office on Facebook and on Twitter @StrattonEyes.

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