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EyeSight Vision Care: Eye Allergies
April 10, 2010

What we feed our bodies feeds our eyes.

Many of the vitamins and minerals in our bodies are found in much higher concentrations in our eyes, so a diet lacking in these vitamins and minerals can lead to vision problems as we grow older.

Take the time every day to give your eyes (and the rest of your body) the nutritive support they need.

Eat the foods and take the supplements that provide the antioxidant vitamins and minerals your eyes require.

You’ll Protect Your Eyesight, ensuring years of good eye health, and increasing the odds that you’ll avoid blindness or vision loss for the rest of your life.

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Table of Contents

Eye Allergies

Spring Has Sprung!

After a raw, cold winter, that first tiny purple crocus or yellow daffodil pushing its way out of frozen ground is welcome news to warm the heart. But for many folks, spring is also a time of suffering: as nature puts forth a profusion of blooms and buds, allergies blossom too.

An abundance of pollen can cause eyes to redden, burn, itch, and water, as well as causing blood vessels in the eye to swell. Below, we answer some commonly asked questions about eye allergies - to prepare you for those May flowers that April showers bring.

Are eye allergies different from other allergies?

No. Like all allergies, eye allergies are caused when the immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to a foreign substance, usually something that is otherwise harmless. The allergen causes certain cells in the eye (called mast cells) to release histamine, a chemical produced in reaction to a substance that the immune system can't tolerate.

What are the most common eye allergens?

Eye allergens tend to be airborne. Indoors, pet hair or dander, dust mites, and molds are the most common allergy triggers. Outdoor triggers include grass, tree, and weed pollens; people who are sensitive to these pollens suffer from seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, also known as "pink eye," is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear membrane over the white part of the eye and under the eyelids. It can be caused by either allergies or infections.

Can eye allergies harm my eyesight?

No. Though eye allergies can be extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable, they cannot harm your eyes.

How can eye allergies be treated?

Different types of allergies require different treatments, but the first step should be prevention or avoidance of the allergens that trigger your symptoms.

Doctors don't normally prescribe medication for viral conjunctivitis because it usually clears up on its own within a few days. Antibiotic eyedrops will alleviate bacterial conjunctivitis. Warm compresses may help soothe your eyes.

Protect Your eyes, Your Eyes will thank you.

Vision Tip of the Month: How can I avoid allergens?

Pollens. Shower or bathe before bedtime to wash off pollen and other allergens in your hair and on your skin. Avoid going outside, especially on dry, windy days. Keep windows and doors shut, and use an air conditioner at home and in your car.

Mold. You can reduce the amount of mold in your home by removing houseplants and by frequently cleaning shower curtains, bathroom windows, damp walls, areas with dry rot and indoor trash cans. Use a mix of water and chlorine bleach to kill mold. Don't carpet bathrooms or other damp rooms and use mold-proof paint instead of wallpaper. Reducing the humidity in your home to 50% or less can also help. (A dehumidifier can help you do this.)

Pet dander. If your allergies are severe, you may need to give your pets away or at least keep them outside. Cat or dog dander often collects in house dust and takes 4 weeks or more to die down, so a short-term trial of removing your pet from your home may not help.

Dust and dust mites. To reduce dust mites in your home, remove drapes, feather pillows, upholstered furniture, nonwashable comforters and soft toys. Replace carpets with linoleum or wood. Polished floors are best. Mop the floor often with a damp mop and wipe surfaces with a damp cloth.

Vision Facts of the Month

Do You Have Eye Allergies?

* About 22 million Americans struggle with the painful symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, also known as eye or ocular allergies.

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