While many people welcome summer and its warmer temperatures, the onset of seasonal eye allergies can spoil the fun for others. The sudden onset of watery, itchy eyes can go from irritating to downright painful, adding stress and discomfort to your day.

How to Tell If You Have Eye Allergies

A telltale sign of eye allergies is itchiness and an urge to rub your eyes, according to Dr. Vivienne Velasco of iFocus Vision Center. This is how you might be able to tell the difference between allergies and Dry Eye, a separate condition that causes red and watery eyes.

“Clinically, I look for a presentation of bumpy and inflamed tissue on the conjunctiva of the eyes,” Dr. Velasco says. “I also look for swollen upper and lower eyelids as well as a purple hue on the bottom of the eyelids.”

Allergies or COVID-19?

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology; and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has left many allergy sufferers questioning whether their seasonal symptoms were something worse.

While some wtih the nasal symptoms of COVID-19 mirror allergy symptoms, Dr. Velasco says what you don’t have is the key to understanding the difference.

Viral conjunctivitis, for example is usually accompanied by an upper respiratory viral infection, red, watery, weepy eyes, and a general feeling of unwellness.

“Allergic conjunctivitis patients do not have symptoms of sore throat or malaise,” she says. “Their eyes may be watery and red – symptoms very similar to viral conjunctivitis – but their main complaint will be itchiness.”

Tips for Relieving Summer Eye Allergies

A diagnosis from an allergist can help you determine the exact allergen that is causing your eyes to itch. Eye allergies cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be controlled, Dr. Velasco says.

Here are five tips for relieving your summer eye allergy symptoms:

1. Always Remember Your Eye Drops

Because no one wants to stay inside all summer, Dr. Velasco recommends that patients with seasonal eye allergies always carry eye drops when they leave the house. She recommends Pataday, an over-the-counter brand, for her patients.

2. Use a Cold Compress

Here’s a useful DIY tip to remember the next time your eye allergies are flaring up: apply a cold compress or washcloth soaked in cold water to your eyes. This can relieve swelling and inflammation associated with eye allergies.

3. Change Your Air Filters

You should change out the air filters in your home every three months in order to reduce the amount of allergens flowing through your house. This will keep your eye allergies from acting up while you’re at home.

4. Wear Big Sunglasses

Much like health officials warn us to wear face masks to reduce infection from COVID-19, Dr. Velasco says sunglasses with large frames can reduce your risk of eye allergies. That’s because the frames will block many of the allergens – dust, pollen, pet dander – from reaching your eyes when you’re outside.

5. Avoid Touching Your Eyes

Rubbing your eyes can only make it worse, Dr. Velasco says. Not only does touching your eyes increase your risk of infection if you haven’t washed your hands properly, but rubbing them can accidentally damage small blood vessels or even scratch your cornea.

iFocus Vision Center remains open with strict guidelines in place to protect patients and staff members. Patients with an urgent need are seen by appointment only, and iFocus offers curbside pickup for eyeglasses or contact lens refills. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 702-473-5660.