With the advent of spring comes wind and allergy season, which can prove to be challenging for individuals who rely on contact lenses for clearer vision. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 1 out of 5 individuals in the United States suffer from eye allergies, while nearly half of all individuals who wear contact lenses report irritation and discomfort from wearing contacts during allergy season. Dr. Sandy T. Feldman, a renowned ophthalmologist and corneal expert at Clearview Eye & Laser Center in San Diego, advises that while patients should take care of their contacts year-round, they should be extremely vigilant during the spring and fall when allergies are at the height of the season.
"Once allergy season begins, pollens can begin to affect different areas of the body, including one's nose, throat, and particularly the eyes. It is important for those who wear contact lenses to pay extra attention to the care of their lenses during this time," said Dr. Feldman. "Not taking proper care can lead to permanent eye injuries or infections."
In order to help patients cope with the added elements during this season, Dr. Feldman suggests trading in hard contacts for disposable lenses or even opting for traditional eyeglasses in place of the contacts. "During allergy season, contact lens wearers might consider wearing daily contact lenses, disposables, or even alternating between wearing contacts and their eyeglasses," adds Dr. Feldman. "Wearing eyeglasses gives eyes a reprieve from the irritation and discomfort that can result from wearing contacts, as allergens and irritants can adhere to the lenses and cause further annoyance and tenderness around the eyes."
In order to avoid eye irritation and possible longer-term damage, Dr. Feldman suggests the following tips:
Wear daily contact lenses – Studies have shown that wearing new lenses on a daily basis helps to reduce irritation, especially for eye allergy sufferers.
Use rewetting drops – Using rewetting drops can not only relieve irritation, but it can also help to rinse away any allergens that may come in contact with the lenses.
Wash hands thoroughly – Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially prior to touching the contact lenses, in order to avoid having dirt or contaminants come into contact with the lenses.
Follow suggested care instructions – Especially during allergy season, contact lens wearers should carefully follow the suggested care instructions for their lenses, including using the appropriate lens cleaner and never wearing contacts for longer periods of time than originally prescribed or recommended.
Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center