Seasonal allergies is a medical condition that occurs when the body's immune system reacts to an external material in the environment. Seasonal allergies have a tremendous effect on millions of individuals annually, causing a negative effect on the eyes. Seasonal eye allergies cause the eyes to become itchy, watery and red. In medical terms, this is referred to as allergic conjunctivitis. There are many allergens that can make our eyes get itchy and red including dust, pollen, pet dander and smoke. These allergens, however, vary from one person to another. For example, while dust can cause itchy eyes for one person, it might not cause the same reaction for others as it all depends on the reaction of each person's immune system.
When something is regarded as a dangerous substance by the eye, a chemical response is elicited to fight against the allergen. This is what leads to itchiness, redness, and irritation in the eyes. Seasonal allergic reactions mostly occur in the spring when plants and trees are pollinating and during the fall when molds are more prevalent.
Allergens affect people differently, but there are general ways in which everyone reacts. These are common symptoms:
Allergens are often carried by the air and if they get into your eyes, the reaction to these allergens causes your eyes to feel ITCHY. This itchiness creates the urge to rub your eyes in an attempt to provide some relief. However RUBBING WILL MAKE YOUR EYES WORSE, causing them to become sore, swollen, red and scratchy and often increases the itchiness and stinging. Rubbing also introduces bacteria into the eyes frequently causing infection (conjucitivitis or keratitis). Since the eyes perceive substances like dust, smoke, dander and pollens as harmful to the eyes, there is an automatic release of tears as a defense mechanism against these foreign items, causing watery eyes as well.
After the entry of these foreign items, it is very natural to feel itchy and want to rub the affected eyes. After rubbing, the cornea, conjunctiva and eyelids become swollen.
Rubbing causes redness and swelling, but there are also capillaries in the eyes that react to allergens and swell whenever someone has an ocular allergic reaction.
Rubbing causes injury to the cornea and this leads to a dry, scratchy feeling. Dry eyes increase during dry, windy winter seasons as well as warm spring seasons when allergies are at their worst. This causes the eyes to become irritated, red, watery and scratchy.
It is impossible to eliminate all allergens due to the fact that many are carried around by air. There are, however, some things that can be done by you to help reduce your chances of being exposed to allergens. One of the first precautions is to remain indoors on windy days since more allergens are carried around at a faster pace. If it is necessary to go out, be sure to wear a pair of sunglasses that provide adequate coverage for the eyes. Furthermore, wearing pollen masks and safety glasses or sunglasses when working in the yard could help to prevent anything from blowing into your eyes.
Whenever you are suffering from allergies, be sure to stay hydrated, use doctor recommended eye drops to help reduce eye irritation, and if you use contact lenses, switch to a pair of glasses to add some extra protection as well as prevent further eye discomfort. Lastly, try to avoid rubbing your eyes as much as possible to prevent any additional complications.