The flowers are blossoming, the sun is (sometimes) shining — spring is here! So are allergies. Pollen and other allergens have a variety of ways of getting into your eyes, causing serious irritation and discomfort. Elevated irritation comes with wearing lenses, where dirt has a higher chance of getting underneath the lens and onto the surface of the eye.
Patrick Titterington, OD, is an optometrist with Lahey Health Hub at MarketStreet in Lynnfield. He has some quick tips that should alleviate some of the irritation you might be feeling this allergy season.
Tip 1: Lubricate
Keeping your eyes wet or lubricated is key with contact lenses. “Artificial tears will help flush out any irritant right off the surface and help the eyes stay more hydrated. There are tear and gel drops as well and options you can use even with the lenses in.” These are usually available over the counter. Allergy eye drops may also be purchased over the counter and can be used twice a day, says Titterington.
Tip 2: Keep the Contacts Clean
Whether you’re wearing dailies, weeklies, or monthlies, one tip is paramount: respect the time table. “Over-wearing your lenses will only contribute to more dryness and irritation,” says Titterington. Multipurpose cleaners are fine but you can get a deeper clean by using a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner. The main goal? Be aware of how long you should wait before you can place the lenses back into your eyes after cleaning in the peroxide.
Tip 3: Don’t rub Your Eyes!
Itchy eyes? Titterington urges not to touch. “It’s okay to use a tissue to pat the eyes. A cool compress can help with the sensation of itchiness, but rubbing the eyes with contact lenses in can damage the lens and sometimes cause scratches or abrasions on the surface of your eye and perpetuate the problem.”
Tip 4: Opt for Spectacles
It’s fine to wear your contacts on the regular, but taking the time to wear glasses in the height of allergy season should help to keep the eyes from drying out and prevent potential foreign irritants from getting directly onto the surface of the eye.
If all else fails, consider having a conversation with your optometrist; they may be able to prescribe you something more appropriate.