It’s Allergy Season. Can An Eye Doctor Help Treat Your Symptoms?

In Maryland, you may be feeling the effects of the allergy season with the increased sniffling and seasonal reactions that come with allergies during this time of the year. Millions of Americans are affected by seasonal allergies annually.

This year’s allergy season is particularly bad, with pollen counts being very high. Did you know that allergies are as hard on our eyes as they are on our lungs, airways, and nose? To address these symptoms, some patients visit their eye doctor as part of their allergy care. So, if you are really suffering this season, you should consider a visit with Dr. Roberts at Shady Grove Ophthalmology to find out an appropriate way to maintain your comfort.

Understanding Allergies

Although we typically associate allergies with sneezing, sniffling, and nasal congestion, our eyes can also be affected by allergy symptoms. If you’re experiencing redness, itchiness, burning, or watery eyes, along with swollen eyelids, it’s likely that you’re dealing with seasonal allergies. These symptoms are just as prevalent as their respiratory counterparts.

Each person may have a different experience with allergies – some may encounter a single symptom, while others may have a combination of several. However, all of these symptoms arise from a biological reaction to the surrounding environment. Essentially, the human body’s immune system is responsible for what we call “allergies” at their core.

The human immune system is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful foreign substances, such as viruses and bacteria. However, in the case of an allergy, the immune system reacts to a specific substance just like it would with a virus or bacteria. This immune response is what triggers the development of allergy symptoms that we often struggle with, as the body is trying to defend itself against what it perceives as a threat.

An allergen is any substance that the human body reacts to excessively, causing an overreaction of the immune system. Since different bodies perceive various substances as allergens, we all experience different types of allergies. In Maryland, for instance, high levels of flower and grass pollen are triggering many current allergies, while others may react to animal dander instead of pollen. This is due to each individual’s unique perception and response to certain substances.

Regardless of what triggers your allergies, the symptoms can be very uncomfortable and real. They may lead to temporary blurriness, making it challenging to perform daily activities. In some instances, they could even increase the risk of developing an eye infection. All of these issues raise the question –  “what can we do to alleviate them?”

Addressing Allergies

Although allergies cannot be cured, they can be managed and treated. The great news is that there are numerous ways to minimize your exposure to allergens, which can ultimately decrease your allergy symptoms. You can make small adjustments in your daily routine, such as purchasing allergy-friendly bedding or avoiding being outside during times when pollen counts are high, to significantly reduce your exposure to allergens and minimize your reaction to them.

Besides taking over-the-counter medication, there are simple tricks you can use to minimize your exposure to allergens and reduce discomfort. Keeping your home’s windows closed and using cold compresses instead of rubbing your eyes can help you avoid pollen and reduce your symptoms. Cold compresses are particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of developing an eye infection because rubbing your eyes can transfer germs to your sensitive eyes.

Identifying the specific allergen you’re reacting to is crucial to effectively managing your allergies. If you’re unsure of what you’re allergic to, it’s recommended that you speak with your primary care doctor about getting an allergy test. This test will help determine the source of your allergic reactions and provide valuable information to help you manage and reduce your symptoms.

If you are experiencing discomfort in your eyes due to allergy symptoms, it is a good idea to consult with your eye doctor, especially if this is the first time you’re experiencing such symptoms. In some cases, people can be allergic to certain types of eye drops, which can make their symptoms worse. By visiting your eye doctor, you can avoid this and find a solution to your symptoms more effectively. If your lifestyle adjustments and over-the-counter medications do not bring you relief, it is recommended to speak with your primary care team about getting stronger medications or even allergy shots to help manage your symptoms.

As you may have realized, there are different options to manage and alleviate your allergy symptoms. We want you to know that we’re here to assist you in understanding these options as much as possible. If you have any doubts or worries about your eye health and managing your allergies during this season, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re more than happy to schedule an appointment with you to discuss your concerns and provide guidance on how to care for your eyes.

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