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Dry, itchy eyes bothering you this summer? You’re not the only one! About 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the United States have seasonal allergies. In addition to symptoms of sneezing, congestion and a runny nose, many allergy sufferers also experience swollen eyelids and itchy, watery, red eyes.

If you have these symptoms, here are a few tips on how to get relief for your eyes:

  • Splash your eyes with icy cold water for about 5 minutes when you first get up in the morning. This helps wash away allergens and reduce puffiness and itching.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes! Rubbing your eyes can intensify feelings of itchiness.
  • Limit your exposure to common allergens. Keep your windows closed during high pollen periods, and use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after petting animals. Pet dander is one of the most common triggers for eye allergies.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to help stop pollen from getting in your eyes.

There are many over-the-counter remedies available to help relieve red, itchy, watery eyes. Decongestants are eye drops that reduce redness from eye allergies by narrowing the blood vessels in the eye. Using these for too long can actually increase swelling and redness, so don’t use them for more than 2-3 days a time. Oral antihistamines are another option that can be mildly effective in relieving itching, but they can also cause dry eyes and may worsen eye allergy symptoms.

One of the best remedies to try is artificial tears. Artificial tears will temporarily wash allergens from the eye and help reduce that dry, irritated feeling. You can use these drops as often as needed for relief. Storing them in the refrigerator to keep them cool can be even more soothing.

Make sure to choose preservative-free artificial tears to avoid irritating your eyes further. A good brand to try is Alaway by Bausch & Lomb. These can be found at many pharmacies, and we also carry them in our vision clinic. Come visit us in the Washington building to pick some up!