42 & May 2016 | Read this issue and more at www.healthandwellnessmagazine.net | Quick Tips for Treating Eye Allergies Eye drops, compresses, disposable contacts can ease red, itchy eyes By Harleena Singh, Staff Writer Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergies, affect nearly one in five Americans. Harmless substances that cause problems for individuals who are predisposed to allergic reactions are called allergens. The most common airborne allergens that cause eye allergies are mold, pollen, dust and pet dander. Eye allergies can also be caused by reactions to certain eye drops or cosmetics, including artificial tears used for treating dry eyes that contain preservatives. Here are some quick tips that can help in treating eye allergies: Limit your exposure to common allergens you are sensitive to. For example, when the pollen count is high, stay indoors and use the air conditioner to filter the air. If you go outdoors during the allergy season, wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from ragweed and pollen and drive with your windows closed. • Use over-the-counter eye drops. Many brands of non-prescription eye drops available today are formulated to relieve the redness, itchiness and watery eyes caused by allergies. These can be used if your eye allergy symptoms are mild. Stronger medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants, The most common airborne allergens that cause eye allergies are mold, pollen, dust and pet dander. mast cell stabilizers, steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and immunotherapy can be used if your symptoms are severe. Consult your doctor before trying any of these. Remove your contacts. The surfaces of contact lenses can attract and accumulate airborne allergens, so consider wearing only eyeglasses during the allergy season. Or you can switch to daily disposable contacts to avoid the build-up of allergens and other debris on your lenses. Limit your exposure to dust mites. Encase your pillows in allergenimpermeable covers. Wash bedding often, and if your mattress is more than a few years old, consider getting a new one, since old ones are often teeming with allergens. Close the windows. This invites millions of microscopic allergens into your home, and itchy, red eyes will soon follow. Running the air conditioner and changing the air filter regularly will keep the air in the room fresh and clean and spare your eyes from allergic distress. Wash your face and hands often. This is the first thing you should Like us @healthykentucky do to combat itchy, swollen, red eyes. It can help wash away the allergens sticking to your skin and eyelashes. We touch our face and eyes absentmindedly and this easily transfers allergens, which causes eye allergies to flare up. Rinse out your eyes. Using a little water, this will loosen the allergens from the inside of your eyes and help flush them out. Apply a cold compress around your eyes. Soak a towel or washcloth in cold water. Lie down with the compress across your eyes to let the coolness reduce the itching and swelling. Leave your eyes alone. When your eyes are irritated, treat them with care. Wash them with warm water; don’t use soap or other cleansing solutions. Avoid wearing makeup. Try not to rub, scratch or touch your eyes. If you use these tips to deal with eye allergies, you’re sure to have more healthy eyes. Red, itchy, puffy and burning eyes can also be caused by infections and other conditions that can threaten eyesight. If these symptoms don’t get better with medicines or self-help strategies, consult a doctor.