Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a particular kind of allergy that causes itchy eyes, among other things. While there are treatment options for allergies and their unfortunate side effects, preventing itchy eyes in the first place is the best solution. While there is no real way to prevent allergies or the accompanying symptoms, there are some things you can do that may alleviate their severity.
Hay fever comes in two forms: seasonal and perennial. Seasonal allergies come around during specific times of the years. Generally, pollens from certain trees, plants, or grasses tend to cause seasonal hay fever; pet dander, dust mites, and mold are around all year long, and thus are generally responsible for perennial allergic rhinitis. Your immune system marks the allergen as harmful, despite the fact that the only reason it is harmful is because your immune system has done so. Whenever you come into contact with it, it causes the symptoms of allergies. When the allergen bothers your eyes, your body starts producing histamine, which causes redness, inflammation, and that unfortunate itching.
The best way to prevent that inflammation is to try to avoid letting it get into your eyes in the first place. Unfortunately, safety goggles probably aren’t going to do the trick, as these particles are pretty tiny. You can, however, minimize outdoor activity on days with high pollen counts, avoid petting or spending too much time in houses with animals, and take precautions to keep as many dust mites as possible out of your house -- although that’s a tall order. Knowing what sets off your allergies and staying away from it is the closest to “preventing” itchy eyes from allergies as you can get.
Ditch the Contacts
If you think your contacts are helping keep your eyes away from allergens, they aren’t. In fact, they may be doing just the opposite. Contacts can actually make a collection of pollens and other allergens, which means your protective corrective lenses are actually just strapping the irritation to your eyes.
Stick to Your Habits
If you have been dealing with allergies for a long time, you probably know when your allergies are going to start up; what makes them better or worse; and have a tried and true medication schedule. That’s good! But you can make it better. Don’t wait for your allergies to start before you try to deal with them. If you know something that blooms in the spring makes your eyes start itching, start taking allergy medication as spring is approaching. If dogs make your eyes go crazy, and you’re off to visit a dog lover, take your medicine before you go, instead of waiting to see if this time will be different. Mast cell stabilizers in particular are geared at reducing histamine and should be taken before allergies begin.
Or Change It Up
If your current medication isn’t working very well, talk to your doctor about other options. If you’ve been taking an oral medication that focuses more on alleviating congestion, but your main concern is itchy eyes, that may not be the best drug for you. Decongestants can help minimize the redness in your eyes caused by allergies, but antihistamine eye drops will likely work better for itching. Rather than vicariously lowering the histamine in your eyes when you take a general antihistamine pill, these eye drops are intended to help with itchy eyes first and foremost. These are available over the counter, but more severe allergies may need prescription eye drops. Corticosteroid eye drops can also help with eye-related allergy issues, but be wary of serious side effects in the long term.