Spring is just around the corner, and the change in season promises fairer weather and new beginnings. Unfortunately, the new growth of spring can also create seasonal allergies that leave you with congestion, headaches, and itchy, swollen eyes.
To combat seasonal eye allergies, you must have a dual focus on both prevention and treatment for symptoms. Use these seven methods to soothe your eye irritations related to allergies.
1. Avoid Allergens
The best strategy to minimize your eye discomfort during the spring is to limit your exposure to allergens. As winter comes to an end, create an actionable plan that helps you avoid seasonal allergens like pollen.
Steps you take may include:
- Changing your HVAC filters before turning on your cooling system for the first time
- Checking pollen levels online as part of your daily routine
- Cleaning your home more frequently
- Keeping your windows closed
- Spring cleaning before the weather actually warms up
These preventative measures are an important first step to good eye health during allergy season.
2. Don’t Wear Your Contacts
If you are prone to allergy-related eye irritation, stop wearing your contacts for the first month or so of spring weather. While contacts do not cause allergy symptoms, they can aggravate any symptoms that do appear.
To prepare for switching to full-time glasses use, you may want to schedule an eye exam. This exam presents a good opportunity for you to check that your glasses prescription is current and to make any necessary updates to maintain your comfort and vision quality.
3. Rinse With Saline
Eye allergies can cause changes in tear production. Many individuals experience eye dryness or excess tears due to allergies. In some cases, your eyes may water frequently but still feel dry due to allergens.
Much of this type of irritation occurs when airborne allergens come into contact with the surface of the eyeball. To minimize your allergen exposure, rinse your eyes with saline solution as necessary. This saline rinse can also reduce the urge to rub your eyes, which is essential because rubbing can trigger a release of more histamines and cause redness, swelling, and blood vessel breakage.
4. Use Medicated Eye Drops
In addition to sterile rinses, medicated eye drops may help relieve some of the discomfort associated with seasonal eye allergies. Decongestant or antihistamine drops can control redness, itchiness, and other symptoms.
You may also want to use artificial tears to help maintain correct eye lubrication. Before you begin a new eye health regimen, consult with your optometrist to determine which brand and formula is best for your symptoms.
5. Try Cold Therapy
Many individuals notice redness, tenderness, and swelling in the eye area when suffering from allergies. Cold therapy can provide immediate soothing relief for these symptoms, including improving the appearance of the skin around the eyes.
Use a soft cloth or compress designed for use in the eye area. These compresses are gentler than traditional cold therapy tools and are safer for your eyes. Soak the compress in cool water, wring it out, and place over the eyes. You can refresh the compress with water when the cloth no longer feels cold.
To address more intense symptoms, wet your compress, wring out the cloth, and put it in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes. This colder compress will last longer and provide relief for more advanced swelling.
6. Wash Your Hands and Face Frequently
As mentioned above, many eye allergy symptoms come from allergens landing on the eye. In addition to floating airborne allergens, your eyes could also suffer from contact with allergens that are transferred in on your skin or hair.
Wash your hands more frequently during allergy season. You should also wash your face twice a day and rinse the area around your eyes as needed. These steps reduce the concentration of allergens on your skin. You may also want to pin back any hair that may cover your face at eye height to minimize your allergen exposure.
7. Wear Sunglasses
When you do need to be outside, wear glasses to protect the surface of your eyes from direct contact with allergens. You may prefer to wear sunglasses rather than your usual glasses because most sunglasses have larger lenses than everyday eyeglasses and, therefore, provide more protection.
If you need constant vision correction, but want the benefits of wearing sunglasses, talk to your eye doctor about investing in a pair of high-quality prescription sunglasses.
If you experience eye allergies, make an appointment with an optometrist at the All About Eyes location nearest you. You should always consult with an eye doctor before you use a new type of over-the-counter eye drops because a prescription oral antihistamine, eye drops, or injection may be more effective to manage your symptoms. If your allergies cause vision changes, feelings of a foreign object in your eye, or acute pain, make an emergency appointment as soon as possible.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you might be concerned about the different effects this condition can have on your overall health. Eye complications are common for those who have diabetes, and without proper monitoring and treatment, these conditions can lead to permanent vision loss.
However, total or even partial vision loss is preventable if you know how to properly care for and monitor your eyes. Managing your diabetes properly is part of reducing the risk of damage to your vision. When you have diabetes, your risk for developing common eye problems increases. These conditions include the following.
Glaucoma occurs when too much fluid collects in the eye, increasing the pressure to a point where the nerves and retina become damaged.
While this disease occurs in people without diabetes, a glaucoma diagnosis is more common for people with diabetes. Some doctors believe it’s due to increased blood pressure in the eye, as diabetics often have increased blood pressure. Others think that because diabetics have much more thorough and frequent eye checks, detection rates are naturally higher.
The best treatment for glaucoma is prevention. Work hard to control your diabetes through diet and exercise. If your doctor notices the beginning stages of glaucoma, medication will help to control the pressure so you can avoid nerve damage. Severe glaucoma may require surgery.
Cataracts are unfortunately more common in diabetics, and they occur at a younger age than you normally might expect. They are caused by increased blood sugar levels. The increased sugar in your body causes the lens to swell. The lens tries to reduce this swelling by releasing an enzyme that transforms sugar to sorbitol.
The trade-off, however, is that the sorbitol collets in the lens, affecting the natural proteins in the cells of the eye. The lens starts to become opaque, forming cataracts.
Treating cataracts in diabetics can be more challenging. Usually, surgical removal of the cataract can help to restore vision. However, removing a cataract in a diabetic increases the chances of developing proliferative retinopathy.
Fortunately, monitoring your blood sugar levels can drastically reduce your chances of developing diabetes-related cataracts. Follow a low-sugar diet and aim for healthy weight loss to reduce the severity of your condition. You can also reduce your risk by wearing glasses for sun protection, since increased exposure to UV light can also lead to cataract formation.
Retinopathy is the most common eye condition associated with diabetes. Almost all diabetics will have some form of retinopathy. There are two main types: non-proliferative retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy.
This condition occurs when the blood vessels in the back of the eye become blocked, forming small pockets of blood. This condition can be mild or severe, but it does not usually result in vision loss. However, it can lead to dangerous eye swelling and blurriness as the blood vessel walls become weak. Your eye doctor will treat the swelling to make sure your vision remains clear.
This type of retinopathy is more dangerous, and it actually does lead to blindness. Once blood vessels are too damaged to repair themselves, they close off. The eye requires blood vessels for oxygen delivery to your cells. New blood vessels try to pick up the slack and begin to grow in place of the old ones.
The new vessels are weaker and they grow into the retina, leaking blood and fluid. Scar tissue begins to form over and around these new blood vessels. As the condition progress, the scar tissue affects the shape, position, and size of the retina. When the retina becomes fully displaced because of scar tissue, vision is lost.
The best solution for retinopathy is early detection, which is why diabetic patients require such close monitoring. You might notice no changes in your vision, but an eye exam will show the changes in the eye and an ophthalmologist will be able to take steps to keep retinopathy from causing vision loss with the following treatments:
This treatment makes many tiny burns on the retina that stop or slow the growth of new blood vessels. When the new growth is stopped, retinal detachment becomes less likely. This treatment is most effective before any vessels have bled into the eye or formed scar tissue.
This treatment targets specific bleeding blood vessels, sealing them off before they can cause further damage.
A vitrectomy is a surgery to help repair retinal detachment, bleeding, and scar tissue formation. This surgery is only necessary when proliferative retinopathy is severe.
Retinopathy is the main concern for those who struggle with diabetes and should be taken seriously.
It is much simpler to prevent retinopathy and other eye problems by managing your diabetes through the advice of your regular physician and eye doctor. Diabetes does not have to steal your eyesight.
For more information about controlling your diabetes and testing for eye diseases, visit All About Eyes.
Migraines can be intense, debilitating, and overwhelming. People who experience migraines frequently may find that these headaches interfere with their daily activities.
Migraines can manifest with numerous symptoms, from nausea to throbbing head pain. One of the most alarming characteristics of migraines is changes in vision. Migraines that affect vision usually fall into two categories: migraines with aura or retinal migraines.
What Is a Migraine With Aura?
Migraines with aura are distinctly different from retinal migraines, which are less common. Migraines with aura are sometimes called classic migraines, not to be confused with common migraines, which are similar but have no visual symptoms. The umbrella term “aura” is used to describe visual and some other physical symptoms relating to the migraine.
When you experience a migraine with aura, you may notice:
- Blind or dark spots in your field of vision
- Flashing lights
- Patterns moving across your field of vision
- Shimmering spots in your field of vision
- Star shaped deformations around light sources
When an aura appears, you may also experience numbness, a feeling of muscle weakness, confusion, or changes in your other senses.
Migraine auras can occur up 10 to 30 minutes before headache symptoms appear, but may also accompany a headache. Most aura phenomena are short-lasting and affect both eyes.
What Is a Retinal Migraine?
Many patients confuse migraine auras with retinal migraines. A retinal migraine is a separate, rare condition that appears in people who have other kinds of migraines as well. This mix-up is due to the fact that retinal migraine visual disturbances look similar to auras and that retinal migraines can happen back to back with classic or common migraines.
Retinal migraines are generally painless, though they can feel highly disorienting. The visual disturbances associated with these migraines only affect one eye at a time. Retinal migraines manifest with periods of blindness or dimmed vision. These episodes usually last only a few minutes, but can potentially continue for 30 minutes.
Why Do Migraines Cause Vision Disturbances?
Medicine has yet to determine the exact cause of migraines and their visual disturbances. Researchers believe that migraines occur when the body responds too aggressively to inflammation triggers, creating internal swelling and irritation in the neck, head, and brain.
Doctors have found that the biggest risk factor for migraines is genetics. If members of your immediate family suffer from classic, common, or retinal migraines, you are more likely to experience these headaches as well. However, you may have completely different migraine types and symptoms from your relatives.
It’s possible that migraines affect vision because the associated inflammation affects the nerves connected to the eye.
In the case of retinal migraines, some researchers believe that the painless vision changes come from spasms in the blood vessels of the eye.
When Should You See a Doctor About Migraines With Vision Disturbances?
Infrequent, mild classic, or common migraines can usually be treated with over-the-counter painkillers, hydration, and rest. However, migraines are potentially serious. Not only can migraines prevent you from functioning normally, but severe migraines can point to major neurological, eye, or spinal conditions.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Classic or common migraines paired with retinal migraines
- Persistent nausea or frequent vomiting
- Sudden changes in symptoms or headache frequency
- Symptoms lasting more than 72 hours
- Vision disturbances that interfere with your ability to drive, bike, or even walk
Even if you do not experience these extreme symptoms, consider discussing your migraines with your doctor. He or she may prescribe a medication to decrease the frequency of your headaches.
What Can You Expect From Migraine Treatment?
If you experience any of the emergency symptoms listed in the previous section, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or with a headache specialist. Treating migraines can be complex and may require any of the following options:
- Anti-seizure or antidepressant prescription medication to reduce convulsive symptoms
- Beta blockers to dilate optical blood vessels
- Calcium channel blockers to prevent blood vessel constriction
- Controlled, localized paralytics like Botox to calm nerve spasms
- Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation, such as eliminating alcohol and caffeine
If your doctor prescribes medication for your migraines, you may be given periodic injections, take daily doses, take the medication when you feel a migraine coming on, or take the medication when you encounter migraine triggers.
If your vision-related symptoms worsen or persist after the migraine has dissipated or after migraine treatment begins, you may have an underlying eye health issue that requires the expertise of an eye doctor.
Individuals who have retinal migraines are at high risk of vision loss in one eye and should be under the care and supervision of an eye health expert. Even if your symptoms are short-lived, you should discuss your eye health with a professional if you ever experience retinal migraines.
Discuss your history of migraines with one of the experienced optometrists at All About Eyes. Make an appointment at the location nearest you today.
Many homeowners take advantage of spring’s warmer weather to complete home cleaning and repair projects that were left neglected during the winter. Unfortunately, some homeowners with longer spring cleaning to-do lists attempt to work so quickly that they put themselves in harm’s way.
As you tackle your spring cleaning checklist, take appropriate safety measures. Pay particular attention to the following eye health and safety protection recommendations.
A sliver, cut, or scrape can be uncomfortable, but will heal quickly. Recovering from a spring cleaning-related eye injury could be much more difficult.
Choose Greener Cleaners
Many conventional cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can cause eye irritation or injury, either by creating toxic fumes or releasing airborne particles. Aerosol and spray solvents are particularly hazardous due to their delivery methods.
Always use household cleaners according to their individual instructions and the constraints of common sense. To further reduce the risk of eye injury, switch to green cleaners that contain fewer potentially dangerous chemicals.
Limit Toxic Chemical Use
You may not be able to completely eliminate traditional cleaning solvents. For example, you may still need to use ammonia or bleach for certain tasks. Always exercise caution when using these toxic cleaners.
Make a list of all tasks that require these conventional cleaners and attempt to finish all these tasks at once to limit your chemical exposure. Additionally, practice safe and careful use of these chemicals. Be sure to keep all harsh solvents separate from each other and from other cleaning solutions to prevent chemical reactions that could generate large amounts of toxic gas.
Prepare Areas to Be Cleaned Appropriately
Many eye injuries that occur while cleaning result from a lack of foresight. Before you start cleaning, look around the space and eliminate potential hazards. For example, you may want to vacuum using a handheld attachment before cleaning closets and crawl spaces to limit the dust particles in the air.
This step is particularly important outdoors. Outdoor maintenance like mowing the lawn can turn debris into projectiles. Do not attempt to mow over anything that isn’t grass, including sticks and twigs, because this choice could endanger your eyes and the rest of your body as well.
Ventilate Your Home
Eye irritants related to cleaning are mostly airborne. To reduce the risk of eye irritation, check that your home has adequate ventilation while you work. You may need to open doors or windows and employ fans to circulate the air properly.
This safety step is just as important when dealing with dust, pollen, and other foreign particles as it is with cleaning solvents.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
While the majority of eye irritants are airborne, contaminants can also enter your eyes when you touch your face, wipe your brow, or rub your eyes. Wash your hands frequently as you work your way through your spring cleaning to-do list and avoid touching your hair, face, or eyes as much as possible.
Additionally, wear gloves when working with harsh chemicals so that these solvents don’t injure your skin and hands or transfer into your eyes by accident.
Wear Eye Protection When Necessary
Some cleaning and maintenance tasks will require that you wear protective gear. In addition to your work gloves and boots, be sure that you have safety goggles on hand. You should put on this eyewear when doing any repairs with a hammer or drill or using gaseous chemicals.
Work With a Professional to Remediate Pest Messes
Many pests, including both insects and rodents, infiltrate homes during the winter in search of food, water, and shelter. As you clean in the spring, you may come across nests or droppings that you didn’t notice during the cold months.
If you see pest messes like these, call in a professional to ensure that the infestation isn’t current and that you protect your home from future infestations. If you decide to work in the area around a nest, wear eye protection, gloves, and a face mask.
Not only can dried droppings become airborne irritants, but any droppings on your hands could get into your eyes. These messes can be more dangerous than many others because droppings may contain bacteria and parasites that could cause eye infections.
Use these guidelines to protect your eyes from the common hazards associated with seasonal cleaning projects. If you need to purchase new protective eyewear in preparation for your spring cleaning, consult with your eye doctor to ensure your goggles or glasses truly protect you.
If you notice signs of eye irritation while working, like redness or feelings of a foreign object in your eye, put your project on hold. If your eye irritation does not dissipate with rinsing and rest or you experience an eye injury while cleaning, see an optometrist at the All About Eyes location nearest you as soon as you can.