If you suffer from seasonal allergies you know the annoying, possibly debilitating symptoms that accompany them. A runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and endless sneezing all are common problems for people across the United States and the world. For those who wear contacts, these allergy symptoms can be especially problematic. If your eyes are already itchy and inflamed, adding a contact may be difficult, annoying, or even painful.

Fortunately, you don’t have to ditch your contacts just because it’s allergy season. There are several ways to help you get relief during this time of year that make wearing contacts a breeze and may also help your overall allergy symptoms.

What Causes Allergies?

Your seasonal allergies and all of those nasty symptoms are due to a tiny particle called pollen. It comes from plants, grasses, and trees as they reproduce and is spread through the air. The pollen particles then enter your body through the air your breath and through open areas like your eyes. When they encounter immune cells known as mast cells, histamine is released. Histamine is the molecule responsible for causing your allergy symptoms because your body thinks that it is being overrun by dangerous pathogens.

General Allergy Prevention / Treatment

Wash those hands: Washing your hands removes pollen particles and helps keep them from reaching your eyes and face. If you can, washing your face throughout the day with water and soap helps remove even more pollen.

Wash your clothing regularly: Although you may try to wear clothes multiple times between washes, this allows pollen and other allergens to build up on them. Make sure to wash your clothing each time it leaves the house. Afterward, dry it in the dryer, don’t let it air dry outside where pollen can collect on it.

Close the windows: This one might be tough if you enjoy the warmer weather, but closing the windows is a must during allergy season. It keeps the allergens out and helps your symptoms.

Invest in an air purifier: A quality HEPA air filter can help eliminate any other allergens (and germs) in the air.

Contact Lens Care Is Key

You most likely wear your contacts for upwards of 8-10 hours a day. That’s a lot of time for the biologic materials of your eyes and allergens to build up on them. Taking good care of and cleaning your contacts well is one of the most effective ways of eliminating allergy eye symptoms. The moist surface of your contact lenses makes them a prime surface for pollen, dirt, and dust to stick on. The longer you leave your contacts in, the more particles can stick on them. Each time you rub your eyes, you push these into your eyes, causing irritation, watering, dryness, or swelling.

At the end of the day, a proper contact lens care plan is tremendously important. You should disinfect and clean them using the solution you get from your eye doctor. If it isn’t working, ask for another solution that may offer better cleaning power.

Daily Contact Lenses Are Better For Allergy Sufferers

If you’d rather not mess with cleaning your lenses, or want something even cleaner, then daily or “throwaway” contacts may be for you. These lenses will give you a fresh pair to put in each morning that you throw away at the end of the day. That means you start each day with contacts free of pollen and allergens without the need for cleaning. By wearing a fresh pair of lenses every day, many of your eye-related allergy symptoms will begin to decrease. Although they may be more expensive up front, you’ll save money by not paying for extra cleaning solution, cases, and allergy medicine.

Why Do My Lenses Get Dry During Allergy Season?

During allergy season, the increased amount of particles in the air and sticking to your lenses is a big factor that contributes to them drying out. Rubbing your eyes and already existing swelling and irritation can block some of the lubricant ducts to your eyes and make them feel dry. This combination dries out your lenses and makes them increase the itching and discomfort in your eyes.

Stop Rubbing Your Eyes

Not to sound like your mom, but you really should cut back on rubbing your eyes. Although they might itch, rubbing doesn’t help, it will only make it worse. Each time you rub, you push allergens into your eye and make the inflammation worse. Even if it temporarily feels good to rub them, itching your eyes heightens your eye-related allergy symptoms and can even cause long-term damage to your eyes.

Will Eye Drops Help The Itching?

Although medical treatment is different for everyone, eye drops may help reduce some of your allergy symptoms. Since itching and dryness go hand in hand, eye drops can limit both problems. Using them to keep your eyes moist can be a great way to eliminate some of the itching and burning from allergies.

There are many kinds of eye drops available. Some “artificial tears” drops are cheap and can be purchased at most any store. If your eye-related allergy symptoms are severe, your eye doctor can prescribe a stronger solution of drops. Be sure to check with your eye doctor before starting to use eye drops to make sure they are safe for use while wearing contact lenses.

Go Easy On The Makeup During Allergy Season

Although makeup itself isn’t the reason for your eyes’ allergic reaction, it doesn’t help the problem. During allergy season, consider using less eye makeup (or ideally none at all). This will help keep your eyes fresher and expose them to less outside particles.

When In Doubt, Visit Your Eye Doctor

Trying to wear contacts (or just survive) during the spring and summer months of allergy season can be extremely frustrating. Chances are, your eye doctor has a great solution for you to help manage your symptoms. A visit and personalized treatment can greatly help decrease the burning and itching of your eyes and let you keep wearing your contacts all the way through allergy season.