Preparing Your Eyes for Spring Allergies

by Lance Kugler, MD

Spring is on the horizon and we all know that means allergy season is just around the corner. How do you prepare for spring allergies and what do you do to manage them? We’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind during this rough time for our eyes and what our vision experts at Kugler Vision can do to help. 

What Are Eye Allergies?

First, let’s take a closer look at what eye allergies are and what causes them. Eye allergies are very common, especially in the springtime. Allergies describe the uncomfortable symptoms that result from sensitivities to environmental factors– like pollen, dust, or pet dander. These irritating substances are called allergens. It’s important to remember that everyone’s allergies, and everyone’s eyes, are unique.

Some people react to certain things that others won’t. When the eyes begin to fight back against this irritation they produce what is called histamine. The eyes response to the allergen is what causes the irritation we commonly see during this time of year. 

What are the symptoms of eye allergies?

The most common eye allergy symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Swollen Eyelids
  • Burning
  • Excessive Tears
  • Sensitivity to Light 

What causes eye allergies?

Allergens in the air — both indoors and out — cause many eye allergies. Some of the most common allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Pet Dander
  • Mold
  • Smoke

Eye Allergy Management

Managing your seasonal allergies becomes a lot more doable when you discover what exactly you are allergic to. After that, avoiding those allergens that trigger your red, itchy, and irritated eyes is a good first approach. 

Outdoor allergy tips:

  • Wearing sunglasses protects your eyes when outdoors and can help minimize the amount of pollen that is able to get into your eyes.
  • Peak hours for spring pollen are early evening and midmorning. It’s important to remember to avoid being outdoors at these times whenever possible, especially during windy days. This can help prevent your eye allergies from flaring up. 
  • Avoid using window fans that can draw additional pollen into your home.
  • Avoiding eye contact, like rubbing of your eyes, during allergy season is important. Rubbing your eyes can worsen the irritation and make symptoms worse. 

Indoor allergy tips:

  • Keep air conditioning units clean and use them as often as possible to cool down your home or car. 
  • Wash your bedding frequently using hot water to reduce dust mites. 
  • Clean your home regularly with a wet rag or mop instead of dry cloths to prevent stirring up dust particles.
  • Use a dehumidifier to limit exposure to mold.

Eye Allergy Treatment

It’s important to see a doctor or allergist to determine which eye allergy treatment options are best for your eyes. Because there are a variety of treatment options available depending on your symptoms, the intensity of your allergies, and the allergens that cause them—seeing an expert will guide you in the right direction. Some people use over-the-counter (OTC) eyedrops and oral medications, some of the most common include: Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl, Zaditor, Visine-A, etc. and while these are great for short-term relief of some of our symptoms they don’t have a lasting impact on our seasonal suffering. 

Contact Lens Intolerance and Eye Allergies

An estimated 45 million Americans wear contact lenses for temporary vision correction and two-thirds of those contact lens wearers are female. Unfortunately, contact lens use often worsens eye allergy symptoms. The slippery plastic contact lenses “suck up” allergens like a sponge, trapping them and holding them directly onto the eye for extended periods of time. Contact lens users also face a highly increased risk of acquiring serious eye infections.

Wearing contact lenses can also result in a common and dangerous side effect known as contact lens intolerance (CLI) — the point at which the eye can no longer tolerate the contact lens and begins to show signs of rejection like:

  • Dryness, itchiness, or scratchiness
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Pain, stinging, or other discomfort when applying contact lenses that worsens over time
  • Corneal abrasions
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Rationing contact lens time – inability to wear contact lenses all day
  • Resorting to glasses

Although we love that the cold is going away, it’s tough to look forward to the itchy, watery eyes and sneezing that those lovely spring trees and flowers can bring. If you’re having trouble with annoying eye allergies and are a contact lens user – it would be beneficial to explore options to remove the need for contacts in the first place by treating nearsightedness or astigmatism at the source. LASIK can help with seasonal allergies and itchy, watery eyes by reducing or eliminating the need for contacts.

In fact, allergy-related contact lens intolerance is one of the most common reasons that people seek LASIK. There are many factors that can contribute to CLI and one of which includes eye allergies. Although LASIK does not cure the allergy problem, it can eliminate the need to have contact lenses in eyes that are irritated by allergies and causing the CLI condition to worsen. Does this sound like you or someone you know? 

At Kugler Vision, we encourage you to see us for an evaluation if you are experiencing symptoms of CLI. Symptoms like these should never be ignored. Don’t allow your eyes to suffer to the point of complete contact lens rejection. If you are experiencing the symptoms of CLI, it’s time to start looking for another solution.

Schedule A Consultation

Feeling ready? It’s time to put contact lens intolerance in the past and spring forward with LASIK. Our experts at Kugler Vision are here to help you achieve crisp, clear vision through our new virtual consultations. You can book a virtual consultation from the comfort of your own home with Dr. Kugler by calling us at 402.558.2211 or email our team by clicking the button below. If you have questions about LASIK or any of the laser vision correction services we provide, please contact us. We are always happy to help and answer questions.

kugler vision doctor lance kugler

Lance Kugler, MD, is a specialist in vision correction surgery and CEO of Kugler Vision. A proud Omaha native, he is passionate about improving lives through clear vision. Dr. Kugler serves on several national boards, and his practice is recognized internationally as a center of excellence. Dr. Kugler is one of the original founders of the Refractive Surgery Alliance, an international organization comprised of over 350 of the world’s leading vision correction surgeons; he also served as its first president. In 2019, Dr. Kugler was selected as a TEDx speaker, and delivered a talk in Omaha about the worldwide epidemic of nearsightedness and refractive solutions. Dr. Kugler is an associate professor of Refractive Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Truhlsen Eye Institute, has been published in many medical journals, and participates in numerous clinical studies to advance the field of vision correction surgery. Dr. Kugler and his wife are proud parents to five active kids. When he has a spare moment, he enjoys skiing, tennis, travel, and fine coffee.

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