Allergy Alert: For Your Eyes Only!

By_ Dr. Clifford Bassett

Wow, it's been a minefield out there with all the sticky and increasingly powerful seasonal pollens that wreck havoc in unsuspecting allergy sufferers. Tree pollens are surging in many areas of the United States right now and many people are feeling the effects in their eyes and eyelids. The immediate desire is to scratch at the eyelids for relief - but don't do it! A good offense is a good defense.

Here are some survival strategies:

WASH WISELY

First, use a tear-free or "baby" shampoo to irrigate gently around your closed eyelids when bathing in the morning. This will wash away unwanted airborne pollens, mold spores and pollutants. Always check with your eye care provider if you have eye diseases such as dry-eye syndrome or other problems in which you are receiving ongoing treatment.

Shampoo your hair at night after pollens have accumulated to reduce the transfer to your pillow and bed sheets and break "the cycle" allowing you to feel better in the morning.

BLOCK YOUR EYES!

Wear BIG sunglasses to block the entry of allergens into the eyes!

COSMETIC OR SUNSCREEN IRRITANTS

Be aware that localized application of creams, make- up and sunscreen can be irritating.

MAYBE IT'S NOT AN ALLERGY!

Make sure you do not have an infection or "dry-eye syndrome" which is handled much differently and would require a visit to your eye care provider. Find out what their recommendation is for specific allergy and/or eye medication.

AVOID CROSS REACTIONS

Take a look at the foods you are eating. Some of them may cross-react with the airborne seasonal pollens, triggering a cross-reaction. You could end up with worse allergy symptoms that affect your eyes, nose and throat.

About one-third of those who suffer from seasonal allergies may experience "oral allergy syndrome" when eating apples, pears, hazelnuts, carrots and almonds (to name a few). The body perceives these foods as an allergy invader, therefore causing histamines and other defender substances to cause itchy, watery eyes, as well as nasal and throat itchiness. This occurs more so during the seasonal peak levels of pollens.

Dr. Clifford W. Bassettis an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine.He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended to diagnose or treat any condition.