At our local Henderson eye care clinic, Joseph Eng, OD explains to our patients that chronic eye allergies are often hereditary. When an allergic reaction takes place, your eyes may actually be overreacting to a substance thought of to be harmful, even though it may not be. These substances are called allergens. For example, dust that is usually harmless to most people, may cause excessive tear production and mucous in the eyes of individuals that are allergic or overly sensitive. Many allergens are in the air, where they come in contact with your eyes and nose. Airborne allergens include pollen, dust, mold, and pet dander. Allergens can also promote excessive production of natural substances in your tears, which can then attach themselves to your contacts and cause blurred vision and added discomfort. According to statistics, about 30 to 50 percent of U.S. residents have allergy symptoms, and about 75 percent of those symptoms affect the eyes. Allergies can trigger other problems as well, such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) and even asthma. Adverse reactions to certain cosmetics or drugs, such as antibiotic eye drops, can also cause eye allergies.
When it comes to seasonal allergies, it depends where you live as to which months are the worst, but ragweed is a major culprit. Weed pollens, however, are not the only problem as indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander and mold also trigger allergic reactions in the fall. According to a list compiled by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the worst towns for fall eye allergies due to ragweed are Wichita, Kansas, Jackson, Miss., Knoxville, Tenn., Louisville, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn. At our Henderson eye care clinic, we know that whether your allergies are chronic or seasonal, the discomfort can be unbearable.
The most common “treatment” we suggest as part of your Henderson eye care routine, is to do your best to avoid what’s causing your eye allergy. If your eyes are itchy, keep your home free of pet dander and dust and try to keep pets off your furniture. When the pollen count is high, try to stay inside with the air conditioner on. Make a point to use high quality furnace filters, as well, because they trap common allergens. Replacing the filters frequently will also help a great deal. Make sure to wear wraparound sunglasses when you do go out to help shield your eyes from allergens, and drive with your windows closed during allergy season.