In Tacoma, the pollen count seems higher than previous years. You can actually check the pollen count in your zip code by visiting pollen.com. This website will even help you determine WHICH pollens you may be allergic to.
Patients experiencing itchy, gritty, red, watery eyes that get worse in the spring are probably suffering from some form of ocular allergies to pollen.
As a general rule this is what I recommend to my patients (presuming you are not allergic to these medications!) :
*Try OTC (over-the-counter) Loratadine or Cetirizine. Some patients may want to use these in conjunction with Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride. Often this step alone is enough to clear up many seasonal allergies. A cold compress on your eyes at night will decrease the itching and discomfort.
*If your eyes are still watery I would advise against using Visine, Naphcon-A or similar products. If you call your PCP they often will prescribe cromolyn sodium. In my opinion and in the opinion of researchers, OTC ketotiphen is more effective than cromolyn sodium.
*If after a few days of above treatment and your eyes STILL are bothering you, please contact my office for an appointment. At this point, an eye evaluation is in your best interest. After my evaluation I will be able to prescribe medications stronger than ketotiphen suited to your needs. These meds are only available with an optometrist’s prescription.
Remember to decrease pollen circulating near your eyes. Use an air filtration system in your home and car. Keep windows closed. Try not to wear contact lenses since they are known to collect dust, pollen and debris (This is also why upgrading to daily use contact lenses is a good idea). Try and wear eyeglasses and wraparound sunglasses when outside.
Happy Spring !