Our “Gateway City”, as St. Louis is nicknamed, has been ranked as a top allergy city in the United States. Bothersome allergens include a high quantity of pollens in the air, and as the warm seasons get longer each year, there is even more tree and grass pollen. Once the weather cools down towards the fall, ragweed generally makes an appearance. In addition to seasonal allergens, perennial irritants include pet dander, dust and mold. All of these airborne allergens can irritate your eyes and get in the way of comfortable vision. If you suffer from eye allergies, our St. Louis and St. Charles, MO, eye doctors can alleviate your troublesome symptoms. Visit our office for relief!
What are common symptoms of eye allergies?
Watery, red and/or itchy eyes along with swollen eyelids are all classic signs of an eye allergy. These symptoms are often accompanied by a runny nose, sneezing and congestion. While food or insect allergies don’t typically affect your eyes, airborne allergens can have a powerful impact.
When allergens contact your eyes, they will attempt to protect themselves by releasing histamines. This is what leads to the uncomfortable symptoms of redness, burning, tearing and itchiness – also known as allergic conjunctivitis. Seasonal allergies often provoke more severe eye allergies than year-round conditions.
What’s the best way to prevent seasonal eye allergies?
Stay indoors with your windows shut! However, this is not a realistic nor practical solution for most of our patients in St. Louis and St. Charles. Therefore, our optometrists advise you to reduce exposure to allergens as much as possible. How can you do this?
Whether you suffer from indoor or outdoor eye allergies, the most important tip our eye doctors can share is: Don’t rub your eyes. Eye rubbing can aggravate your symptoms significantly, making itchiness and swelling worse and possibly leading to infection. We also recommend that you refrain from wearing contact lenses, or switch to daily disposables. Single-use contacts do not allow allergens to build up on the lens surface, so they often reduce eye allergy symptoms.
Additional helpful suggestions:
- Check pollen count in the St. Louis area (there are many online sites with this information), and stay inside on days when the counts are particularly high
- Avoid spending too much time outdoors on windy days
- When seasonal eye allergies strike, keep your windows closed and turn on the a/c
- Keep your a/c filters clean
- Wear sunglasses to block irritants from reaching your eyes
- Prevent mold growth by lowering humidity with a dehumidifier
- Keeping moist environments very clean with bleach (such as bathrooms and basements)
- Wash bedding and linens frequently in hot water
- Insert pillows, blankets and mattresses into mite-proof covers
- Mop your floors and surfaces with a damp rag instead of sweeping or dry dusting
- If you pet any furry animals, wash your hands and clothes well
Treatment for Eye Allergies
When your symptoms flare up, it’s time to visit us in our modern eye care clinics, in St. Louis and St. Charles. Our eye doctors will recommend the best effective treatment to relieve your painful eyes. Cool compresses can bring quick relief (avoid heat) to itchiness. We often advise trying over-the-counter solutions first, such as decongestant eye drops, artificial tears, or oral antihistamines. (Note that you should always consult with an eye care specialist about the brand or type of product, as some remedies can worsen symptoms when used incorrectly.)
When over-the-counter products do not help, our optometrist may prescribe stronger eye drops, such as short-term steroids or antihistamine drops. Other treatment options include oral antihistamines or immunotherapy allergy shots.
Eye Exams are Essential
Many symptoms of eye allergies can also be caused by other ocular problems, some of which can be serious. The only way to determine that you are indeed suffering from allergic conjunctivitis is by having a professional eye exam. Contact us to schedule an appointment in St. Louis or St. Charles, and our eye doctors will take a close look at what is bothering your healthy vision!