Spring Allergies & Your Eyes

April 15, 2022

Field of brightly colored wild flowers

It has already started for some people, while others are dreading its arrival. You know what time of the year it is… spring allergies! Keep reading to learn how to conquer your eye allergies this year.


What causes allergies?Hand holding a dried dandelion

The body is extremely complicated and smart, however, there are times when things backfire – like allergies. When the body comes in contact with harmless, foreign particles (such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander) the immune system can have a difficult time determining if there is risk for harm from these microscopic cells. Some people have this abnormal type of reaction, while others do not. There is also a genetic component that can increase your risk of developing allergies if you come from a family with a history of allergies.


Black and white picture of a young boy rubbing his eyes What eye symptoms can I expect with allergies?

Itchiness, redness, burning, tearing, temporary blurred vision, and a gritty sensation are the most common signs and symptoms of ocular allergies. Severe allergies will also produce a white, stringy mucus that can cause blurry vision. Contact lens discomfort, or even intolerance, can occur for some individuals.

Children can experience the same symptoms, however, they might not be able to articulate what they’re feeling. Chronic eye rubbing or excessive blinking can be an indication of allergies, as well as other eye conditions that should be professionally addressed. Before self-diagnosing and treating, it is best to have an eye doctor examine for possible allergies first.  


How do I treat eye allergies?

Relief from mild allergies can be as easy as using cold compresses and cold artificial tears. The cold temperature helps decrease the histamine-induced itching and any accompanying swelling. In moderate cases, an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine/mast cell stabilizer combination eye drop will help alleviate symptoms. It is important to avoid eye drops that contain decongestants to decrease redness. These can make the eyes more dry, red, and irritated with overuse. Some severe cases of allergies might need a mild prescription steroid drop for short-term use. OTC allergy drops are safe to use year-round if needed, but it is not ideal to use a steroid for an extended length of time if possible.


Woman wearing sunglasses holding a yellow flower in a field of yellow flowers What can I do to prevent eye allergies?

The best way to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid the allergen. Wearing sunglasses when outside can help protect the eyes from pollen or other allergens in the air. OTC oral antihistamine medications can help with other non-ocular allergy symptoms, however, they don’t always have the best symptom relief when it comes to the eyes. Topical drops act much quicker and tend to be more effective for the eyes. Starting an allergy eye drop prior to the peak of spring allergies will have a greater effect on symptom relief than only using the drops as needed.

Daily disposable contact lenses are also very helpful for contact lens wearers with allergies. Any pollen or debris that builds up on the contact lens gets thrown out at the end of the day, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning the lenses. Dailies are the healthiest and most comfortable option for any contact lens wearer regardless of allergies.


If you experience any persistent eye symptoms, we recommend you schedule an appointment with us. Our education and specialty instruments allow us to diagnose and treat eye conditions that may be misdiagnosed otherwise. Spring allergies are not fun, but we can certainly enjoy the warmer weather and beautiful flowers that come with the season change.