Did you know that one in five Australians will endure hayfever this spring as warmer weather and air-borne pollen lead to symptoms including runny noses, inflamed throats and dry, itchy eyes.
According to Ana Sui, optometrist with personalEYES, Australia’s leading network of eye clinics, surviving seasonal eye irritations is possible with preparation.
“A visit to your optometrist will reveal if you have an existing eye condition. Approximately 15 per cent of the people we see for general eye tests have dry eyes – a painful syndrome that can have serious outcomes if it goes untreated. Dry eye, combined with allergies will make you truly miserable this spring,” says Ms Sui.
Over 2 million Australians suffer from dry eye, a result of the eye producing fewer tears or a change in the composition of tears. Age, hormonal changes for women, air-conditioned environments, medications, screen use, and contact lenses all contribute to the condition. Ms Sui adds, “Your optometrist can prescribe effective treatments for dry eye that will make the change in seasons easier to bear.”
If you don’t suffer from dry eye but still end up with red, itchy eyes as soon as the weather warms up, then maybe you should stick to these 8 top tips to surviving spring allergy free:
1. Get friendly with fish
Ms Sui recommends including plenty of fish in your diet to improve eye health and reduce eye irritation.
“Including plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet by eating oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel is a great way to reduce eye inflammation and symptoms and signs of dry eyes,” says Ms Sui.
“Fish oil helps to improve the quality of our tears, easing dry eye.”
Fish oil supplements and flaxseed oil are recommended if you are not a fish eater.
2 Rest your eyes
Remaining glued to your computer for hours can strain and dry out your eyes.
“The large and small screens of computers and mobile devices are a part of daily life, however, it has been demonstrated clinically that when we use our screens, we blink less and this can contribute to dry eye,” says Ms Sui.
“Try to make a conscious effort to blink frequently while at your computer. You could even put a reminder on your computer to take a 5 minute screen break every hour,” she says.
3 Give your eyes a spring break
Wear contact lenses? Temporarily swapping your contact lenses in favour of glasses can reduce the discomfort caused by spring allergens.
“Airborne allergens and chronic contact lens use can reduce the stability of the tear layer which can cause dry eyes,” says Ms Sui.
“Consider wearing glasses during spring or even disposable daily contact lenses to avoid accumulation of allergens in your eye.”
4 Don your sunnies
Sunglasses and broad brimmed hats can be a great way to shield your eyes from airborne pollen and allergens as well as harmful UV rays. Optometrists have a range of great prescription sunglasses available for spring and Ms Sui recommends wrap around glasses for protection against pollen and UVA and UVB rays. Just another excuse to go and buy a fab new pair of sunnies!
5 Eye drops
If you have mild eye allergy symptoms, eye drops can relieve irritation – ask your optometrist or pharmacist to recommend a brand that soothes and lubricates the surface of the eye.
“Taking a shower when you arrive home and regularly instilling lubricants are other simple yet effective ways of ridding your eyes from allergens and treating mild eye allergy symptoms”, Ms Sui says.
6 Make your home allergy free
Simple changes around your home can make all the difference in combatting spring eye allergies. The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy recommends removing or cutting back pollen-producing plants and trees around your home. Keeping your car and home windows shut can also lessen spring allergens. Removing carpets, blinds and curtains in your home can also help.
7 Invest in allergen reducing bed linen
Using special allergen-reducing covers for your pillows, mattress and bed can help reduce eye allergies to dust and debris. Regularly cleaning and vacuuming your room will also help reduce exposure to dust mites.
Allergy-free pillows and quilts have a filling that discourages the growth of bacteria, mold and dust mites. They are worth the investment to wake up bright-eyed.
8 Keep pets outside
Ensuring pets are kept outside your home, or at least restricted to a certain area of the house, is another way to keep eye allergies in check. Wash your pet weekly and remove hair from carpets or rugs – or ditch floor coverings altogether and vacuum regularly.
So as soon as you feel the itch in your eyes this spring, give these tips a go and get some relief ASAP!