How do allergies affect your eyes?
People with allergies know that when the seasons change, they’re at risk for a few bad days. The worst time is usually in spring, when flowers and trees bloom and plants spread pollen in sheets across fields, roads and sometimes even cars. Fall, too, gives rise to mold and other materials that can irritate your sinuses to cause sneezing, runny noses and much more.
Sometimes, allergies affect your eyes, too. If you don’t take medicine, you run the risk of pain that could affect your vision on a daily basis. This may be nothing more of an annoyance for some people, but others have to face allergies that turn beautiful fall and spring days into nothing but hour-long bouts of sneezing and scratching that make it hard to hang with friends or even function at work. To maintain your vision and remain a good candidate for a LASIK procedure, you might want to brush up on the science behind allergies and the best way to avoid them.
What are allergies?
Depending on how long it’s been since your last high school biology class, you might need a refresher course on what’s happening inside your body when you suddenly have to reach for the tissues or scratch your eyes.
Most allergies are caused by particles called allergens. These microscopic molecules can be made of anything – dust, pollen or pet dander are common allergens – and when they come into contact with membranes inside the human body, such as the lining of the sinuses or the eyes, you feel an intense irritation.
Your body has actually evolved certain mechanisms to keep allergens away from sensitive membranes. The hair in your nose traps a lot of contaminants, and your eyelashes and eyebrows actually sweep away dust and other materials often trapped in sweat.
The basics on eye allergies
Most people with allergies and even those without them can recognize the tell-tale red-eyed mark of someone with allergies. So what actually causes that discomfort?
MedicineNet explained that, when allergens come into contact with conjunctiva, the outer layer of tissue that lies over the entire surface of the eye, they cause the tissue to swell and become inflamed. This draws the body’s own immune system to devour the allergens and remove the cause of inflammation from the body. Unfortunately, until that happens, you feel like clawing your eyes out of your head.
Avoid eye allergies with these tips
You might only have to deal with allergies for a few months out of the year, but it can feel like forever when you’re stuck in an attack. Skip the bleary eyes and raw skin with these tips.
- Wash your hands: Believe it or not, most allergens don’t just fly right into your eyes – they get a little help from an unsuspecting assistant. When you touch doorknobs or shake hands in spring, you may be spreading allergens to and from other people. If you don’t normally wash your hands, these allergens spread when you touch your face. It’s only a short trip to the eyes and an allergy attack from there.
- Wash your pillowcases: The oils from your skin can build up over time to form substances that can trap allergens and cause problems. When you go to sleep every night, these oils and contaminants have uninterrupted time to combine and cause you discomfort when you wake up. Washing your pillowcases every night prevents these substances from building up.
- Buy a dehumidifier: If you live in an area with lots of water or high humidity, you’re at a much higher risk for mold growth than other parts of the country. A dehumidifier pulls excess moisture from the air and deposits it into a reservoir that you have to empty every now and then, but the relief from allergies is worth it. Sylvane.com explained that when the humidity rises above 50 percent, allergens have the perfect environment to thrive.
- Clean regularly: This one should actually be a no-brainer, but a clean house leaves almost no allergens around to cause you trouble. Leave that dust lying around for long enough and you’ll have a house full of the stuff and even some of it drifting through the air. You may want to consider hiring a cleaning crew to ensure that your house is entirely hypoallergenic without a worry.