Eye allergies myths

June 17, 2019 | Essilor

The Top 5 Myths about eye allergies

Eye allergies: Fact or fiction?

Allergy season is in full swing. Ragweed and airborne pollens are allergens that can cause a great deal of inconvenience for a lot of people, and can be especially rough on the eyes. Whether your eyes are itchy, burning, watery, or red, this time of year can be really uncomfortable for a lot of people. So we’re shedding some light on five popular eye-related allergy myths, to help you and your eyes make it through the season.

When your eyes are itchy, you should go outside and get some fresh air.

FALSE.
Actually, that’s strongly discouraged! There are many allergens outdoors and they float through the air. What’s more, in the morning and early evening, or when it’s windy, the air can carry a large amount of pollen, which can make your situation worse. When your allergies are at their worst, it’s best to stay indoors and close the windows to protect your eyes—and the same goes for closing your vehicle’s windows when you’re in the car.

Medication is the only way to beat your allergies.

FALSE.
There are certainly over-the-counter medications you can get from the pharmacy to soothe and minimise your symptoms—but there are also many non-medicinal options you can try. Vitamin C and essential fatty acids can also help alleviate allergies, and using a nasal rinse solution with saline water can eliminate pollen dust that may have lodged in your nose and sinuses. But simply wearing sunglasses when you’re outdoors can keep pollen from getting directly into your eyes, and can help reduce the risk of allergic reactions. There are many types of relief; we’ve got you covered.

Pollen sticks to your contact lenses, which makes the situation worse.

TRUE.
Allergy season can be particularly hard on contact-lens wearers: the surface of contact lenses acts as a magnet for allergens in the air. Luckily, there’s no need to miss out on all the joys of the great outdoors; just give your eyes a break and bring along a new pair of prescription sunglasses. If you want to wear contact lenses throughout allergy season, careful cleaning is the key to keeping allergy-related eye irritations to a minimum. For example, always remember to wash your hands thoroughly before you handle your contacts.

If it’s your eyes that are reacting to your allergies, that means there’s an allergen in your eyes.

FALSE.
Your eyes can get itchy and watery from any allergic reaction, including eating foods to which you’re sensitive. Itchy, watery eyes can also be a symptom of pollen-food syndrome, which is an immune disorder characterized by allergic reactions to eating certain fruits and vegetables, where the body accidentally confuses the structure of the food protein for the structure of a pollen molecule, so responds by causing an allergic reaction. So, if your eyes are red and itchy, it isn’t necessarily because there’s an allergen or something else in your eye; that’s just where the reaction is happening.

Your seasonal allergies can eventually disappear.

TRUE.
It can help to see an allergist and take allergy tests to find out what triggers your reactions. In some cases, experts will advise desensitisation as a means of ultimately eliminating allergic reactions to things to which you’re currently allergic. When it comes to allergic reactions that are affecting your eyes, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your eyecare professional.

An estimated one in six people suffer from seasonal allergies. If you’re one of them, we recommend seeing your optometrist for a complete assessment. An eye exam will provide a closer look at your eyes’ tissue and structure, which can help identify signs of allergies, and which can also exclude other causes of irritation, like bacterial or viral infections. Because knowing what causes your allergies is the first step towards solving the problem—or at the very least, the first step towards better eye protection, for greater eye comfort.

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