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“Allergy season” means a lot of things to a lot of people. Depending on your sensitivities — whether you’re susceptible to the pollen from flowering plants, grass, or weeds — it could be fall, spring, or summer. But no matter what time of the year you’re affected, you know what you can expect from allergy season: stuffiness, sinus drainage, fatigue, and dry, itchy eyes.

While you can often treat other symptoms with anti-histamines and over-the-counter drugs, protecting and treating your eyes is another story. Just coming into contact with pollen and other allergens can trigger puffiness, redness, itching, and pain. If all that wasn’t bad enough, you can actually do damage to your eyes by rubbing them or overusing some medications, like over-the-counter eye drops.

HANDS OFF!



We’ll discuss how to decrease exposure and prevent allergic reactions in a moment, but first we have to stress how important it is to keep your hands away from your eyes. Rubbing your eyes not only irritates the skin around them, but it can also do real damage. 

If you have dust or pollen particles in your eyes, the best thing you can do is blink often or flush your eyes out with clean water or saline. Rubbing them will only grind those particles into your eyes, which can scratch your corneas and create more problems.

By the same token, when you overuse eye drops, your eyes can become addicted to them and stop producing as much moisture of their own. If you suffer from dry eyes, talk to your eye doctor about the best course of treatment.

KEEP IT CLEAN



You can avoid exposure to allergens in the air by keeping your home clean and dust-free. Vacuum your carpets once a week (or more if you have pets or if the pollen count is particularly high in your area) and keep dust at bay.

You can usually avoid kicking dust up into the air and irritating your eyes if you use a damp cloth to wipe down the countertops, shelves, blinds, and other dust-attracting surfaces in your home. Also, make sure that you change your air filters once a month. Starting allergy season off with a brand new filter will help keep your air clean and clear.

LET SOMEONE ELSE TAKE CARE OF THE YARD WORK



Protecting your eyes from allergens is a game of avoidance. While keeping your home allergen-free is important, you also need to make sure that you’re not going out and inviting allergic reactions and dry, itchy eyes. So, leave the lawn mowing and hedge trimming to someone else. Staying inside while pollen dust is blowing around will help keep your eyes in good shape.

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR EYE DOCTOR



If your job keeps you outside during allergy season or you just can’t stand being cooped up inside, talk to your eye doctor about allergy treatments that will help your eyes stay moisturized and healthy. The right eye drops, when used judiciously, could keep you outdoors and in good vision health throughout the year.

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