Millions of people suffer from allergy symptoms in their eyes, sometimes called allergic conjunctivitis. While some environmental allergies are year-long, many people suffer specifically from springtime allergies. As exciting as it can be to finally see the first signs of warmer weather, the burgeoning springtime can wreak havoc on your eyes.

What causes eye allergies?

Like all allergic reactions, your eyes are reacting to exposure to an allergen. The springtime brings with it many kinds of pollens and molds. Perennial allergens like smoke or dust may also increase in the spring. When an allergen reaches your eyes, your histamines go into overdrive, which can cause your eyes to become red, itchy, watery, or painful. You may experience slightly blurred vision or even some amount of discharge. Nasal allergy symptoms often coincide with eye irritation, so you may also experience a runny nose and plenty of sneezing. There are ways to treat allergy symptoms, as well as steps you can take to limit your exposure to allergens.

How to relieve allergy symptoms

It helps to know exactly what you’re allergic to, especially if your symptoms are severe. Your eye doctor will be able to recommend appropriate testing, and they can prescribe medications to you should you need them.

  • Remove contact lenses

Unfortunately, contact lenses may make allergy symptoms worse if allergens manage to accumulate on the surface of the lenses. Consider using prescription glasses during allergy season or at least switching to single use contact lenses.

  • Wear glasses outside

If you can stay indoors with the windows closed, you may notice fewer seasonal allergy symptoms. And wearing glasses or sunglasses while outside can help limit the amount of pollen and other outdoor allergens that come into contact with your eyes. If you opt for sunglasses, makes sure they block all UV rays, as to provide protection from sunlight. Cheap prescription sunglasses are available online if you have a prescription. Traditional prescription glasses that offer UV protection, as well.

  • Eye drops

Keeping your eyes hydrated is vital to overall eye health, and eye drops can also help give you some relief from the dry, red and itchy eyes of allergy season. Avoid using “red eye” drops as persistent use of these can actually make allergy symptoms worse.

  • Wash your hands

Try to avoid touching your eyes as much as possible, and if you must do so, wash your hands thoroughly beforehand.

  • Prescription medications

Your eye doctor may start you on antihistamines, steroids or other anti-inflammatory medication to treat your allergies if they are severe enough. Usually this is a last resort, and it is recommended you try over-the-counter eye treatments and preventative measures before resorting to stronger prescriptions.