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Avoid Itchy Eyes With These “Spring Cleaning” Tips

From an abundance of airborne pollen and wildfire smoke to shedding pets, spring can really do a number on your eyes. 

“I see patients with dry eyes year-round,” says Katherine S. Hu, MD, an ophthalmologist at the University of Utah John A. Moran Eye Center. “But in the spring, even my patients without dry eye may experience itching, excess tearing, burning, and red or pink eyes—even swollen eyelids. Whether caused by allergies or all kinds of irritants floating through the air, it's wise to take some precautions.” 

Springtime basics for clear, healthy eyes

  1. Limit contact lens use or stop using them during high pollen season, as allergens tend to stick on contacts. 
  2. Remove your eye makeup every night since it can cause eye redness and irritation. 
  3. Toss your old or expired makeup while you’re at it; spring is an excellent time to start with fresh replacements.
  4. Wear sunglasses or other eye protection when you go outside. Even better—wear wrap-around glasses to keep the wind and allergens away from your eyes. 
  5. Don't rub your eyes, no matter how much they itch! Instead, use a cool, wet washcloth to clean your eyelids.
  6. Use artificial tears if your eyes are dry and itchy. 
  7. Apply a cold compress or cooling eye pads to puffy eyes and give your eyes a rest. 
  8. Take an antihistamine if you are suffering from sinus allergies. 
  9. Avoid going outside in the early evening when pollen counts are generally the highest.
  10. Use air conditioners instead of window fans and keep windows closed. Fans invite pollen and mold in from outside. 
  11. Keep indoor dust at a minimum by using a damp rag or mop when cleaning. 

“If eye irritation lasts longer than a few days, or you experience blurry vision, contact your ophthalmologist,” Hu advises. 

'Extreme dryness can cause damage to the delicate conjunctiva—the membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. It can also damage the surface cells of the cornea, so don’t ignore any blurriness and let your doctor know about it.'
Katherine S. Hu, MD, ophthalmologist at the John A. Moran Eye Center at University of Utah.