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What do you know about seasonal eye allergies?

woman applying eye drops

Suffering from itchy, watery eyes? You may have ocular allergies or you could have another issue entirely, such as chronic dry eyes. Experts say that getting the correct diagnosis is the only way to treat symptoms properly.

“Chronic dry eye often mimics the symptoms of seasonal allergies and must be approached entirely differently,” says Arian Fartash, VSP network optometrist. “Many over-the-counter allergy treatments can actually make dry eyes worse, so make an appointment with your eye doctor to determine the exact cause of your discomfort.”

If your itchy and watery eyes are diagnosed as ocular allergies, Dr. Fartash recommends taking the following steps.

• Limit your exposure to pollen on high pollen count days.

• Wash your face after being outside to reduce the amount of pollen on the skin.

• Use cold compresses for some added relief.

• Don’t rub your eyes, as this will increase your body’s overreaction to the irritants.

• Remove contact lenses, which can attract allergens that accumulate throughout the day. Consider wearing your glasses or switching to daily disposable contacts during allergy season.

• Try over-the counter eye drops. There are a number of allergy drops that are formulated to relieve itchiness, redness, and watery eyes. But consult your optometrist to find out which are the best recommended.

• Consider prescription medications. If the symptoms won’t go away, you might need something stronger. Go see your eye doctor to discuss if a prescription medication is right for you. You can find a doctor local to you by consulting the VSP-network at

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