What can I do about eye allergies?

Many people are affected by allergies, especially at this time of year. With pollen and dust returning to the air, many people will be reaching for their allergy medications. What about the eyes? Well there are many things we can do to help with itchy red eyes during the allergy season.

The most common and easy thing to do is over the counter (OTC) allergy medications. You can use oral medications like Claritin or Zyrtec. Many times these OTC pills are enough to control all your symptoms, even your itchy eyes. However, if they don’t make you feel better, there are OTC allergy drops for you to try. The drops that you should try has an active ingredient called ketotifen. The branded drops are called Alaway, or Zaditor and they are usually next to each other in the eye drop aisle at your pharmacy.

The main thing is to stay away from “Redness Reliever” drops even if it says they are for allergies. These drops will help with your redness, but eventually the redness will return and may be worse. “Get the red out” drops are great drops for special occasions like weddings or professional photos, but not for everyday use. They will make you more reliant on the drops to keep the red away. Instead, it is better to treat the condition making your eyes red, like allergies.

If the OTC drops and pills do not give you relief, or they do not last long enough, then there are prescription drops for eye allergies. Sometimes when allergies are really bad, a mild steroid drop will greatly help with symptoms. These medications can be prescribed by your eye care provider after an examination to verify that allergies are causing the itching and redness.

If you are a contact lens wearer, then allergies can be especially troublesome. Allergens in the air can stick to your contacts and irritate the eye. It is a good idea to take your contacts out every night and rinse them off with your multipurpose solution. Another good overnight solution is Clear Care, which is a peroxide solution that deep cleans the contacts. Always follow the replacement schedule for your contact lenses to keep infections and allergies from irritating you, or damaging your vision.

Other things that can cause itching and redness are dry eye, infection, or a foreign body in the eye. If you believe that you have allergies that affect your eyes, then try the OTC remedies first. If they do not seem to help, then make an appointment with your eye care provider for help. We are at the beginning of allergy season, and there is no reason why you should have to suffer through it!

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