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Spring is here — and so are seasonal allergies; here are some tips to reduce eye discomfort

April showers bring spring allergies.
Along with the beautiful blooming flowers and growing grass, spring in Kentucky means the discomfort of seasonal eye allergies has arrived. Many people may be experiencing symptoms from swollen eyelids to dry eye to itchy, watery eyes.

According to the Kentucky Optometric Association (KOA), this irritation occurs when the eye comes in contact with pollen, dander, smog and mold. The body’s immune response includes the release of the chemical histamine, which causes the redness, burning and itching associated with eye allergies.

Irritation occurs when the eye comes in contact with pollen, dander, smog and mold (Photo Provided)

Irritation occurs when the eye comes in contact with pollen, dander, smog and mold (Photo Provided)

“Your local eye doctor can help provide relief for eye allergy symptoms,” said Dr. Tyler Mayes, an optometrist in Central City. “Through a proper diagnosis, we can give patients the best treatment, which could range from over-the-counter allergy drops to prescriptive medicines.” 
Mayes also said simple steps such as not touching or rubbing your eyes; washing your hands often with soap and water; and washing bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens will help allergy sufferers.
The KOA offers additional tips to help reduce the discomfort of seasonal eye allergies:
• Maintain a healthy diet: Foods rich in anti-oxidants, including spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots and red peppers, help improve the immune system and combat the symptoms of eye allergies.
• Use preservative-free lubricating eye drops: Although antihistamines can help with typical symptoms like runny noses and sneezing, doctors of optometry warn those medications can make eye symptoms worse by reducing tear quality and quantity. The KOA recommends using preservative-free eye drops or, if you wear contact lenses, rewetting drops.
• Apply a cold compress: This will provide quick, temporary relieve from itching and redness by constricting the blood vessels that are releasing histamine in the eyes.
• Take fish oil supplements: Omega-3 fish oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and irritation.

In addition to discussing allergy relief with your optometrist, the KOA recommends adults have yearly eye exams. Based on an individual’s eye health and the severity of his or her eye allergies, the eye doctor may recommend more frequent visits.
To find an optometrist in your area, please visit www.kyeyes.org.

From Kentucky Optometric Association Communications

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