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Enjoying Life During Eye Allergy Season

Spring is in the air. But along with the beauty of the blooming flowers and budding trees, comes allergy season. The high pollen count and allergens floating in the fresh spring air can certainly wreak havoc on the comfort level of those suffering from allergies, causing an otherwise nature-loving individual to seek respite indoors. Your eyes are often one of the areas affected most by allergens which can leave them red, itchy and watery, making you feel achy and tired.

Tree pollens in April and May, grass pollens in June and July and mold spores and weed pollens in July and August add up to five months of eye-irritating allergens. That is quite a long time to stay indoors!

Don’t hibernate this spring and summer!

Here are some practical tips to keep your eyes happy as the allergy season comes upon us.

  1. Avoid rubbing your eyes. This makes the symptoms worse because it actually sets off an allergy cascade response which causes more inflammation and itch. Plus, rubbing might lead to a scratch which will cause greater, long term discomfort.
  2. Plan your outdoor time wisely. One of the seasonal allergens that disturbs eyes is pollen, so it is a good idea to stay indoors when pollen counts are high, especially in the mid-morning and early evening.
  3. Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes, not only from UV rays, but also from allergens floating in the air.
  4. Check and clean your air conditioning filters to make sure they are working properly to filter out irritants.
  5. Use a humidifier or set out bowls of fresh water inside when using your air conditioning to help moisten the air and ensure that your eyes don’t dry out.
  6. Taking a shower or bath helps wash off allergens from the hair and skin. Cool down with some cool compresses over your eyes.  This reduces the inflammatory response and the itchiness.
  7. Allergy proof your home:
    • use dust-mite-proof covers on bedding and pillows
    • clean surfaces with a damp cloth rather than dusting or dry sweeping which can just move dust to other areas or into the air
    • remove any mold in your home
    • keep pets outdoors if you have pet allergies
  8. Remove contact lenses as soon as any symptoms appear. Some contacts can prevent oxygen from getting to your eyes and tend to dry them out or blur vision due to oil or discharge build up under the lens. This will just worsen symptoms and cause greater irritation. Further because allergies can swell the eyes, contacts might not fit the way they usually do, causing discomfort.
  9. Speak to your optometrist about allergy medications or eye drops that can relieve symptoms. Certain allergy eye drops are not compatible with contact lens wear and in fact can bind onto the lens and cause further irritation. If your allergies are severe and you don’t want to stop contact lens wear, then ask your OD for a prescription allergy drop that can be applied before inserting your contacts. This may help prevent the allergic response and provide more comfortable lens wear.

These are only a few steps you can take to make your eyes more comfortable during allergy season. Remember to seek medical help from your eye care professional if symptoms persist or worsen.

PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITY

We have been working very hard to prepare to re-open for normal "routine" preventive eye care, taking every precaution to ensure the safety of everyone involved. We are pleased to announce as of Monday May 18th we'll be seeing patients for all types of eye care, including routine annual eye exams.

But, things will be very different than they were prior to the pandemic.

1. Our front door will be locked at all times. We will be allowing only 1 person at a time in the office and by appointment only, so please enter alone, or with no more than l other person accompanying you. Others may wait in the car.

2. Masks will be required for both patients and us while in our office.

3. Upon entering, we will be checking your temperature and screen you for COVID symptoms or possible exposure. If your temperature is 100 F or higher, or you have symptoms or may have recently been exposed to COVID, we will reschedule you.

4. We will need you to respect the 6 feet personal distancing while outside the exam room

5. We will have you wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when you enter. We will be using hand washing and hand sanitizer constantly and will be disinfecting everything you and we touch. Please don't touch anything that isn't absolutely necessary.

6. For frame selection or picking out glasses, please let us help you, and don't just browse and try on frames by yourself. We have to disinfect the frames every time they are touched or worn, and we need to know which frames need to be disinfected.

We are doing all these things to protect you and all of our other patients as best we can. We will need and depend on your cooperation on this during this very difficult time. Doing so will protect your fellow patients-many of whom are at extremely high risk if they contract COVID - and to protect us. All healthcare providers are putting themselves in harm's way every day during this pandemic - the more we all cooperate and take appropriate precautions, the better off we all will be.

We are all in this together. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation.

Please stay safe.

Dr. Jim Hutchins and staff