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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.