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April 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring and Allergy Season

Spring is officially in the air!  Along with this season come mold spores, dust, pollen, and a host of other allergens that cause eye problems.  Many individuals will experience red, itchy and watery eyes. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to remember that there are many options available to help reduce the effects of eye allergies.

The Spring season can be particularly hard on contact lens wearers.  But, ocular allergies can make non-contact lens wearers miserable, too.  When allergy symptoms kick in the allergy sufferer usually visits the local drugstore to pick up a systemic antihistamine for relief.  While these medications can clear up systemic symptoms like runny noses, sneezing and coughing, they can make ocular symptoms worse by reducing the quantity and quality of tears.

People who experience dry eye and ocular allergy problems during this season need to know that optometrists have a number of very effective medications.  Treating ocular allergy symptoms does not take a one-size-fits-all approach.  There are many factors that go into getting the right treatment for your symptoms.  It is important for you to accurately describe your symptoms so that your optometrist can prescribe a topical medication that safely and efficiently relieves your symptoms.

Allergy sufferers can also help themselves by controlling their environment.  Keeping the windows closed during the worst seasons and washing your eyes after being outside may limit the severity of symptoms.
It is also important for wearers of contact lenses to be mindful of the "surface environment" that contact lenses create.  Extended wearing times, infrequent replacement of lenses, and use of potentially irritating contact lens care products can significantly exacerbate the symptoms.  Proper lens care is an important part of keeping the eyes safe and comfortable.

Eye allergies can be curtailed and, sometimes even prevented, by following these recommendations from the American Optometric Association:
• Don't touch or rub your eyes;
• Wash hands often with soap and water;
• Wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens;
• Avoid sharing, and in some cases, wearing eye makeup;
• Never share contact lenses or contact lens cases with anyone else.

Beyond discussing allergy relief with your optometrist, the doctors at the University Eye Center also recommend that you have eye exams.  Based upon an individual's eye health and the severity of their eye allergies, the eye doctor may recommend more frequent visits.
The University Eye Center diagnoses and treats patients with ocular allergies.  Its clinics have the most up-to-date equipment and technology.  You are urged to schedule an appointment with your eye practitioner or, if you would like, you can make an appointment at the University Eye Center by calling 212-938-4001.  You do not have to endure the Spring season with eye allergies.  Have your eyes examined and enjoy the season free from eye allergy symptoms!