Spring started officially March 19 but  springtime allergies are well underway.  One climate website estimates that the spring allergy season has begun at least 2 weeks earlier than it did decades ago due to milder winters and warmer temperatures. The lower half of the US is under a “pollen bomb” alert as pollen levels rise to unprecedented levels across the US.

Pollen can have a significant impact on the eyes, leading to a condition known as allergic conjunctivitis. This condition occurs when the eyes come into contact with allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, or pet dander, triggering an allergic reaction.  Sometimes there is so much pollen in the air, it can irritate your eyes mechanically even without allergic sensitivity.  The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis can vary in severity but often include:

1. **Itching**: One of the most common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis is itching of the eyes. This itching sensation can be intense and persistent, leading to discomfort and irritation.

2. **Redness**: The eyes may appear red or bloodshot due to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the white part of the eye.

3. **Watery Eyes**: Allergic conjunctivitis can cause the eyes to water excessively as the body tries to flush out the allergens.

4. **Swelling**: Swelling of the eyelids and surrounding tissues may occur in response to the allergic reaction, leading to puffiness and a feeling of heaviness around the eyes.

5. **Burning or Stinging Sensation**: Some individuals may experience a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, particularly when exposed to allergens or during periods of high pollen count.

6. **Sensitivity to Light**: Allergic conjunctivitis can increase sensitivity to light, making it uncomfortable to be in brightly lit environments.

Treatment for spring allergies affecting the eyes typically involves a combination of preventive measures and symptom management. Here are some strategies that can help alleviate symptoms:

1. **Avoidance of Allergens**: Minimizing exposure to allergens can help prevent allergic reactions. This may include staying indoors on days with high pollen counts, keeping windows closed, using air purifiers, and avoiding activities that stir up dust or mold.

2. **Eye Drops**: Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine eye drops can help relieve itching, redness, and watering of the eyes. The only ones we recommend are olopatadine, lastacaft and  the nasal spray azelastine. Lumify is the best redness reliever to use as it is gentle on eyes and less likely to cause rebound redness. The best eyedrop I have found for raw, itchy eyes is OptiMel made naturally from manuka honey. Optimel is available on the www.teamtoyos.com website. These drops work by blocking the release of histamine, reducing the diameter of veins to reduce the red eye appearance and reducing the inflammation created by allergic responses.. 

3. **Artificial Tears**: Lubricating eye drops can help soothe dryness and irritation caused by allergic conjunctivitis. These drops can be used as needed to provide relief throughout the day. Be sure that your drops are preservative free and ideally have lower concentrations of boric acid like Oculosin from www.teamtoyos.com

4. **Cold Compresses**: Applying a cold compress to the eyes can help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort. A clean washcloth soaked in cold water or chilled eye masks can be gently placed over closed eyelids for a few minutes at a time.

5. **Oral Antihistamines**: In some cases, oral antihistamines may be recommended to help control systemic symptoms of allergies, including itching and sneezing. However, these medications may cause worsened dry eye symptoms as they dry up the natural tear film that is a natural barrier between you and the environment. 

6. **Prescription Medications**: For severe or persistent symptoms, a healthcare provider may prescribe stronger medications such as corticosteroid eye drops or mast cell stabilizers like cromolyn eye drops to help control inflammation and allergic reactions.

7. **IPL**  The nuclear option for immediate relief of ocular inflammation, release of natural meibum to protect the ocular surface and improvement of ocular allergy symptoms.

The doctors at Toyos Clinic are experts at diagnosing and treating ocular surface disease and inflammation related to allergy. Don’t wait to start enjoying your outdoor spring activities. Head to Toyos Clinic or the website at www.teamtoyos.com to set up a consultation or to select products right for you. Get back to your spring and your life with treatments from Toyos Clinic.