If you are finding yourself rubbing your eyes more this time of year, you are not alone! Eye allergies, plus irritation from swimming and sunburn to the eye are bringing more people to the doctor this week.
Pollen in the air can cause much more than congestion and stuffiness. The itchy, watery eyes that come with pollen can impact your vision, your day and your comfort, especially if you wear contact lenses. Ophthalmologist Al O'Byrne with The Eye Clinic explains, "It's much more difficult to tolerate wearing your contacts, because your eyes itch all the time, you're constantly rubbing them. A lot of times we have to give patients steroid drops to help deal with the itching and all during the allergy season."
If your eyes continue to be uncomfortable and red, a doctor can prescribe stronger eye drops than you can buy over the counter.
You might also be reaching for the eye drops if you have gone swimming in a chlorine pool or salt water. "A little different than allergic conjunctivitis," said Dr. O'Byrne, "you do get a lot of redness, you get more burning and more of a foreign body sensation and really the best thing to do in that situation is to wear goggles when you're in the water, try not to open your eyes underwater."
The best way to treat irritated eyes after a swim is with over-the-counter artificial tears that do not have preservatives.
You know to protect your skin from sunburns, but Dr. O'Byrne says not to forgot about your sensitive eyes. "Exposure to the sun from UV rays also increases your risk from macular degeneration," he said, "you're more likely to get cataracts at a younger age if you're out in the sun a lot without protecting your eyes."
The simple solution is to wear sunglasses with UV protection.
Dr. O'Byrne also says he sees a spike in contact lens wearers opting for LASIK this time of year because of more eye irritants.