Thursday, April 21, 2011

Allergy season will be a month longer than normal this year - what to do about itchy and watery eyes

I'm seeing more patients with complaints of itchy, watery eyes.  And my husband is complaining like crazy and begging for a prescription!  That means it's spring and allergies are here.  In fact, in the northern part of North America (which includes most of Canada), allergy season is expected to last as much 27 days longer than normal according to a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Eye allergies are a reaction allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander.  They get in the eyes and cause inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner eyelid. 

There are a number things you can do.

 If you wear contact lenses, consider switching to daily disposable lenses.  They are by far the most comfortable lenses on the market. Allergy season can make contact lenses more uncomfortable and comfort declines significant in weeks three and four for a monthly lens.  You can avoid most of these problems by switching to a daily lens.  Although daily lenses are more expensive, you don't need to buy solutions and they are super-convenient because you don't need to clean and care for them.  They are unbeatable for traveling.

Allergy medication is an another option.  Oral, all purpose allergy medication like Claritin should be used with caution, especially if your main complaint is itchy and watery eyes.  These pills can dry out the eye and replace one problem with another.

There are a number of prescription eye drops designed to eliminate itchy watery eyes that your eye doctor can tell you about and prescribe if appropriate.  Many of these are very effective, now come in "once-a-day" formulation, are pregnancy safe and can be used in children as young as two years old.  For a child, who needs a parent to apply the drops, the once-a-day option is convenient because you can give the child one drop in the morning and he is good for the next 16 hours of summer camps, sports, hikes and everything else than makes summer fun!