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Red eye relief for the pollen-nation

You blink an average of 15,000 times a day. Still, pollen can get in your eyes. For seasonal allergy sufferers, pollen can cause allergic conjunctivitis – that’s when your eyes get red and swollen.

Experts at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver offer these techniques to get the red out:

  • Wash your hands. During high allergy season, pollen is everywhere. You get it on your hands opening a car door, running your hands through your hair, or touching other outdoor surfaces. If you rub your eyes with those pollen-coated hands, they will only get more irritated. Washing your hands frequently can reduce the amount of pollen that gets in your eyes.
  • Use saline rinses or artificial tears. These can provide significant relief by removing or diluting the pollen grains in the eye.
  • Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses can reduce the amount of pollen that gets in the eyes by deflecting the wind carrying it toward you.
  • Close the windows and use the air conditioner. This can reduce pollen floating in the air both in the house and in the car.
  • Apply cold compresses. A bag of frozen peas or a moist washcloth that has been placed briefly in the freezer can reduce both itching and swelling when put on the eyes.
  • Medications. Several medications can also help people whose eyes bear the brunt of their seasonal allergies. For people with mild symptoms, oral antihistamines can prevent irritation of both the eye and the nose. For those with more severe allergic conjunctivitis, doctors can prescribe a number of medications that can be applied directly to the eye. Talk with your doctor to learn what would work best for you. Use medications throughout the pollen season, not just once in a while, for best effects, especially before you’re exposed to pollen.
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