Flying Cotton Balls, High Winds and My Itchy Eyes

PollenNo doubt if you live in the Sacramento Valley you have seen the wispy white pollen flying in front of your face. The arrival of cottonwood pollen (sp. Populus) only confirms that we are experiencing an extended “pollen vortex”. A very wet winter has led to extreme biomass growth.

Pollen levels are peaking and include tree pollen, grass and weeds. Some spores are seen, too.

Forty mile an hour winds this weekend certainly did not help and you are likely having watery, itchy, swollen or red eyes… along with many nasal symptoms.

Clues that red, itchy eyes are caused by allergies include:

  • The redness is present in both eyes
  • The discharge is watery, not colored
  • Your eyes are itching
  • There are associated nasal symptoms

Ocular allergy or allergic conjunctivitis is caused by our immune systems identifying the allergen as abnormal and overacting. This leads to widening of small blood vessels in the eyes, inflammation and itching.

  • Wash the face and the eyes regularly, to clear any residual pollen or particles
  • Topical antihistamine eye drops are the most effective for fast relief
  • Oral antihistamines can give some relief, but may have the effect of over-drying the eye
  • Saline and anti-inflammatory nasal sprays can be helpful as well
  • If you have eye pain or visual changes, see an eye care professional

Consultation with an allergist can help you identify what allergens are causing the symptoms, and either minimizing the exposure or treating the root cause.

To schedule a consultation with one of our Allergy Center providers, please call 916-736-6644.

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