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Eye Drops

Fall Allergies: Cause, Effect, and Solution

Seasons changing are often something to look forward to. Especially when the chill of winter is conquered by the warmth of spring, and the swelter of summer is subdued by the cool crisp of autumn. One of the downsides of changing seasons, however, is the allergens that come along with them. So, let’s talk the causes, effects, and solutions of seasonal allergies and how they can upset your eyes. The focus of this talk? Fall.

Causes:

Let’s kick this conversation off with a quick background of your eyes and why they can get the brunt of allergy effects. An article from WebMD gives a good explanation, stating that the layer of skin covering the front of your eyes is “…the same type of skin that lines the inside of your nose. Because these two areas are so similar, the same things can trigger allergic reactions in both places.” Typical eye allergies that affect your eyelids, the layers of skin that cover the front and the inside of eyes, are referred to as allergic conjunctivitis by your Doctor of Optometry (OD).

One of the most common allergy triggers that can bother both your nose and your eyes is ragweed pollen. Ragweed grows across the US and its pollen releases during the fall months, with its highest pollen counts in mid-September. While ragweed does not grow in every single state, it can travel in the wind for hundreds of miles!

Two other common triggers in autumn are mold and dust mites. The leaves that pile up outside your home as they fall gracefully from the trees provide a nice, damp breeding environment for mold. Dust mites are invited to frolic around in homes, schools, and other commonplace indoor locations once heat gets turned on in the fall.

You’d probably never guess how much two things that are vastly loved can play a big hand in eye allergies – body fragrances and bonfires. Have you ever noticed that being around a friend or coworker in the spring and summer is perfectly fine but come fall, you’re constantly sneezing and rubbing your eyes around them? This could be because the perfume or cologne they brand themselves with during the cooler months contains an allergen that irritates your eyes. While bonfires are a fun way to gather under the stars around the warmth of an outdoor fire, wildfire smoke can irritate your sinuses and trigger your eye allergies as well.

Effects: 

The American Optometric Association shares that, “ocular allergies are the abnormal response of sensitive eyes to contact with allergens and other irritating substances,” and notes that eye allergies are, “one of the most common ocular surface diseases in primary eye care.” 

When allergens come into contact with eyes’ mast cells, an important part of all immune systems, release histamines and other chemicals that can cause your eyes to become inflamed, red, swollen, itchy and watery in an attempt to fight off the allergen. These responses can also cause your eyes to become sensitive to light.

While we should thank the attempt, the response can be extremely frustrating! So, let’s move on to solutions.

Solutions:

Some solutions are very simple but can still be quite hard to do: for example, taking a hands-off approach. It’s difficult not to touch your eyes throughout the day, especially when they’re itchy, but rubbing your eyes can only make things worse. 

A few other short term simple solutions include avoiding eye makeup, applying a cold compress to your eyes, and wearing sunglasses while outdoors to act as a shield against allergens.

You might also want to consider purchasing a dehumidifier and an air filter, switching your bedding from cotton to naturally hypoallergenic silk which also serves as an inhospitable environment for dust mites, and swapping your contacts with glasses when your eyes are suffering.

While over the counter eyedrops can also be very helpful and soothing, consider scheduling an appointment with an optometrist at Vision Health Specialties for a comprehensive eye exam to confirm there are no other causes for the symptoms you are experiencing and to construct a customized plan for you during the allergy seasons!

What Eye Drops Are Best For My Eyes?

Are you suffering from red, irritated and scratchy eyes? Do you feel like you have something stuck in your eyes? These are hallmark symptoms of dry eye syndrome, a condition that occurs when your eyes are not properly lubricated due to insufficient tear production, blocked glands, or unbalanced tear composition.

The symptoms can be so unpleasant that many rush to the nearest pharmacy to find the perfect eye drops that will offer them the relief they need so that they can get back to focusing on other things.

However, seeking the ideal artificial tears to relieve dry eyes can be a daunting process. The eye drops shelf at the drug store offers so many options that it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. What’s more, some can actually make your symptoms worse.

Not all eye drops are created equal—currently, there are 6 main categories of artificial tears available over the counter. Choosing the artificial tears based on your specific needs can help narrow your options.

The 6 Types of Eye Drops / Artificial Tears

Preserved Artificial Tears

Preserved artificial tears contain added preservatives to maintain a very long shelf and keep bacteria at bay once the bottle is opened. Unfortunately, it also causes inflammatory dry eye disease, meibomian gland dysfunction and an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive, leading to redness, irritation and inflammation. While these drops may offer temporary relief, long term they can do more harm than good. Moreover, the preservatives may leave residue on contact lenses.

Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

Preservative-free artificial tears are great for contact lens wearers as they don’t cause any preservative build-up on the lenses. They are also suitable for those with sensitive eyes since they contain fewer ingredients that can cause irritation.

Preservative-free eye drops typically come in a box of 28 to 30 small vials that fit in a pocket or purse.

To use these drops, just pop the top off and insert the drops into your eyes. Some of these vials can be re-capped to allow you to continue to use the vial for up to 24 hours, but not longer. Refrigerate opened vials between uses to prevent any bacterial growth.

Oil-Based Artificial Tears

Oil-based tears come in preserved and preservative-free versions. These are thicker than traditional eye drops, as they contain an oil-based formulation. The oil helps prevent the watery portion of the tears from evaporating too quickly.

If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, oil-based artificial tears may be a great option. However, they’re not recommended for contact lens wearers, as the oils may stick to the surface of the lenses, making it difficult to keep them clean.

Eye Drop Spray or Mist

These sprays are preservative-free and are used to relieve dryness and irritation in both the eyes and eyelids. They’re easy to use, especially for those who struggle to insert drops into their eyes.

To use the spray, just close your eyes and spray onto your closed eyelids. Once you blink, the tears will slide into your eyes.

Don’t use the spray if you’re wearing makeup, lotions, or creams on your eyelids, as it can cause the makeup or lotion to enter your eye.

Artificial Tear Gel

Artificial tear gel adds a thick coating of tears and can be used at any time of the day or night. However, the thicker consistency of the gel drop may blur your vision for several minutes.

The gel is applied in the same way as eye drops. It effectively soothes the eyes and provides extended relief for both moderate to severe dry eye.

Most artificial tear gels contain preservatives, so they can only be used up to 4 times a day, and usually they are not safe for contact lens wearers.

Artificial Tear Ointment

Dry eye ointments are thick and coat the front of your eye. They’re usually used 1 to 2 times daily as needed. It may be best to use them at bedtime, as it will blur your vision.

Get Dry Eye Relief Today!

Artificial tears may be a good way to temporarily relieve eye dryness. However, using the wrong type of eye drops can be worse than not using any drops at all. So be sure to consult your eye doctor before you get eye drops.

Keep in mind that eye drops don’t address the root cause of dry eyes; they just provide temporary respite from the uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. Only an eye doctor can examine your eyes to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend the best treatment for your unique case of dry eye.

Schedule an appointment with Vision Health Specialties in Midland to learn more about dry eye syndrome and to find out which treatment is best for you.

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Billy J. Cook

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. This may be due to certain diseases (like diabetes or other autoimmune diseases), aging, allergies, hormonal changes, smoking, poor air quality, medications and the environment.

Q: What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome can cause a wide range of symptoms including:Itchy eyes
    A feeling that there is grit or debris in the eye
    Blurred vision
    Burning sensation
    Dryness
    Irritation
    Sensitivity to light and glare

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Midland, Texas. Visit Vision Health Specialties for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.