Fall is just around the corner; the warm sun, slight morning chill and mix of soft breezes and falling leaves combine to bring us perfect temperatures and possibly the most beautiful afternoons we enjoy all year. But beautiful fall days also bring us something we may not enjoy at all; natural outbreaks of allergens. In the fall, pollen or molds are at their highest levels. Ocular allergies kick up from being exposed to these airborne irritants that come in contact with the eye’s surface. If you wear soft contact lenses, you will be especially susceptible to these airborne pathogens because contact lenses aid as collectors of these particles.
Symptoms of Fall Eye Allergies:
- Eyelid puffiness
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Watery eyes
Causes of Fall Eye Allergies:
Mold triggers – For decades, scientists can predict how bad a fall allergy season will actually be dependent on the weather. If your eyes are changing with the season into itchy, red or watery eyes, the culprit is most likely to be mold, pollen or a combination of both. Fall brings about an entirely new set of allergy triggers. Mold hides itself in the crisp hay and straw, or under the dazzling leaves we rake. And guess what? Large amounts of rain doesn’t wash them away and, instead, actually fuels this unwanted facet.
Pollen triggers – If you sneeze at spring pollen triggers and have allergies related to spring plants, fall will most likely elicit a similar response. Ever hear of ragweed? Its pretty yellow blossoms hide their stash of pollen that begins to grow in August and explodes into the air during the months of September and October. Ragweed is a tough plant that will not die until the first complete frost. Until then, there is really nowhere to hide or avoid its wrath. One ragweed plant can send thousands of pollen spores into the wind that can travel hundreds of miles in every direction. Wraparound sunglasses can offer some protection from this sticky and sneaky plant debris.
Fall dust mites – The fall season is the best time of year for dust mites to attack. We shudder to even think about this possibility, but in reality, fall dust mites are a force to be reckoned with. During the humid summer months, dust mites have been resting in your furnace. The first time you turn on your heat in the fall the nasty mites are blown around your entire house. To avoid this contaminant, clean your heating vents and change your furnace filter prior to turning on the furnace for the season. Take note, dust mites also are very common in schools. Many children react with wheezes, sneezing and runny noses directly after returning from school at the day’s end. This is due to the awakening of nasty mites in and around the school’s air ducts.
Eye allergy relief:
When dust, pollen or fall mold partials come into contact with your eyes, your body releases histamine. Histamine triggers the nose to run, the eyes itch insanely, and the production of excessive tears. If you seek advice from your doctor, he or she may prescribe an antihistamine for you to relieve those nuisances. If your eye allergy symptoms are mild, over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops are an effective choice. However, if your symptoms are moderate to severe, you should see your ophthalmologist, who can prescribe a stronger medication.
Eye allergy prescriptions:
Antihistamine eye drops prevent histamine from latching onto cells and triggering an allergic reaction.
Decongestants are prescribed to relieve red, itchy eyes. Common decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, help shrink the blood vessels that swell when reacting to an allergen in the white of the eye (sclera).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are eye drops that are most often prescribed by doctors for seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, also well known as hay fever.
Steroid eye drops are prescribed for severe eye allergy symptoms. Corticosteroid eye drops do have some negative side effects, including causing high eye pressure, cataracts or glaucoma. For all of these reasons, steroid eye drops are a short-term prescription in most cases.
Mast cell stabilizers are prescribed prior to the onset of allergy season. Mast cell stabilizers block the release of histamine, but can take several weeks to take effect. Ask your doctor if this might be a preventive option for you.
Best types of contacts for fall:
Eye doctors receive numerous complaints about discomfort caused by contact lens products during the fall season. In most cases, it is not the contact lens that people are having an allergic reaction to. A majority of the time, the culprit is dust or pollen that gets stuck to the back of the contact lens and irritates the scala of the eye. Since soft contact lens surfaces attract and collect airborne allergens, many eye care professionals firmly believe the best type of soft contact lens to prescribe for their patients that suffer from fall allergies are daily disposable lenses. Since these lenses, like the Focus Daily Contacts and Dailies Aquacomfort Plus, are discarded on a daily basis after one wearing, the lens surface will not have the chance to create a buildup of debris or pollen.
Change is in the air. Everything seems new in the fall. Children return to school with new shoes and crayons. The trees alter colors. The temperature transforms to crispness, and your eyes are ready to take in the surrounding splendor. Like many people, you don’t want to miss out on all the football games, Oktoberfest celebrations or apple picking opportunities. Now that you know what might be the cause of your itchy or red eyes during the fall season, treat with vengeance and prevent those nasty airborne allergens. Go ahead, take a deep breath and enjoy all of your beautiful fall days.