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Enjoying Life During Eye Allergy Season

Spring is in the air. But along with the beauty of the blooming flowers and budding trees, comes allergy season. The high pollen count and allergens floating in the fresh spring air can certainly wreak havoc on the comfort level of those suffering from allergies, causing an otherwise nature-loving individual to seek respite indoors. Your eyes are often one of the areas affected most by allergens which can leave them red, itchy and watery, making you feel achy and tired.

Tree pollens in April and May, grass pollens in June and July and mold spores and weed pollens in July and August add up to five months of eye-irritating allergens. That is quite a long time to stay indoors!

Don’t hibernate this spring and summer!

Here are some practical tips to keep your eyes happy as the allergy season comes upon us.

  1. Avoid rubbing your eyes. This makes the symptoms worse because it actually sets off an allergy cascade response which causes more inflammation and itch. Plus, rubbing might lead to a scratch which will cause greater, long term discomfort.
  2. Plan your outdoor time wisely. One of the seasonal allergens that disturbs eyes is pollen, so it is a good idea to stay indoors when pollen counts are high, especially in the mid-morning and early evening.
  3. Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes, not only from UV rays, but also from allergens floating in the air.
  4. Check and clean your air conditioning filters to make sure they are working properly to filter out irritants.
  5. Use a humidifier or set out bowls of fresh water inside when using your air conditioning to help moisten the air and ensure that your eyes don’t dry out.
  6. Taking a shower or bath helps wash off allergens from the hair and skin. Cool down with some cool compresses over your eyes.  This reduces the inflammatory response and the itchiness.
  7. Allergy proof your home:
    • use dust-mite-proof covers on bedding and pillows
    • clean surfaces with a damp cloth rather than dusting or dry sweeping which can just move dust to other areas or into the air
    • remove any mold in your home
    • keep pets outdoors if you have pet allergies
  8. Remove contact lenses as soon as any symptoms appear. Some contacts can prevent oxygen from getting to your eyes and tend to dry them out or blur vision due to oil or discharge build up under the lens. This will just worsen symptoms and cause greater irritation. Further because allergies can swell the eyes, contacts might not fit the way they usually do, causing discomfort.
  9. Speak to your optometrist about allergy medications or eye drops that can relieve symptoms. Certain allergy eye drops are not compatible with contact lens wear and in fact can bind onto the lens and cause further irritation. If your allergies are severe and you don’t want to stop contact lens wear, then ask your OD for a prescription allergy drop that can be applied before inserting your contacts. This may help prevent the allergic response and provide more comfortable lens wear.

These are only a few steps you can take to make your eyes more comfortable during allergy season. Remember to seek medical help from your eye care professional if symptoms persist or worsen.

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Dear Patients,

As of Tuesday evening, March 17th, the CDC has recommended that all routine eye care be deferred until further notice, in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19 through our community.

Please be assured that we are still available to triage all urgent and emergent calls during this challenging time.

We are officially closing our offices effective at 3:00pm today, March 20 th and tentatively plan to reopen on April 1 st . We are rescheduling all routine visits and are available by phone to triage ocular emergencies.

Our phone lines will be open:

Monday the 23 rd and 30 th : 10:00am to 5:00pm

Tuesday-Friday (24 th -27 th and the 31 st ): 9:00am to 3:00pm

What does this mean?

1) If you are scheduled for an annual eye examination we will tentatively reschedule you starting April 1 st

2) If you are running out of a medication please contact us and we can transmit a refill electronically to your pharmacy.

3) If you have an issue which cannot wait for an office visit, contact us and we will schedule a Telephone appointment with one of our doctors. Medicare has temporarily relaxed its telehealth rules to allow this type of communication during the pandemic crisis. Other insurers may follow suit and allow for reimbursement of virtual care costs. The consultation must be initiated at your request.

4) If you have an ocular emergency we are, as always, available to help you at any time. Call 1-850-455-0120 andwait for instructions at the end of the message.

Dr. Leonard or Dr. Charbonneau will discuss your condition by phone and make the best treatment decision for you on a one on one basis.

5) Please remember that 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and resolve within a week. However, if you feel your symptoms are worsening, call ahead before visiting your doctor’s office or emergency department and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

The CDC has many wonderful resources. Arming yourself and your family with clear information will help you avoid undue stress.

https://bit.ly/2WxWYIe and https://bit.ly/33FBlXZ

Together we will weather this storm.

With sincerest wishes for your continued good health we remain at your service,

Dr. Clare L Leonard

Dr. Mary Charbonneau