Spring has officially arrived which means allergy season is here – or quickly approaching. If you’re amongst the 8 million Canadians (one-quarter of the country) that has seasonal allergies, you’ve probably experienced some form of itchy, red, dry, or watery eyes.
Seasonal allergies are caused by the high pollen released by trees, grass, outdoor moulds, and ragweed. They begin in the spring, peak in the summer, and can last as late as fall.
Most of us know when seasonal allergies strike because we start to experience mild to extreme discomfort in our eyes, but have you ever wondered what’s actually causing our eyes to react? Dr. Harleen Takhar explains:
"Allergens in the air bind to receptors (called mast cells). We have approximately 50 million of these receptors on the surface of our eyes.
When the mast cells come in contact with the allergens, they release a chemical called histamine, which is what ultimately causes our eyes to feel itchy and watery. It also causes the blood vessels on the surface of our eyes dilate, which makes our eyes look red.
There are many ways to treat or even prevent these allergic reactions, with medications and without."
Most allergens are seasonal, which in most cases last between four to six weeks.
Here are the best -and safest- ways to manage your eyes this allergy season:
- Get in the habit of checking your local pollen forecast, which provides you with a daily outlook on the types and severity of pollen in the air.
- Speak with us about over-the-counter or prescription eye drops if discomfort persists.
- Place cold compresses on your eyes, this can help relieve the itching sensation.
- Despite temptation, DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES, as this will only make your eyes worse and can potentially cause long-term damage.
If you’re experiencing persistent eye discomfort as a result of seasonal allergies, be sure to book an appointment with us to discuss your options.