From the northwest coast to the southern shores, common allergies can affect our eyes at different times of the year.
We often associate runny noses, congestion and sneezing with seasonal allergies. However, trees, grass and weeds can also cause sore eyes, including itchiness, tearing and swelling. We’ve got a list of allergies — by region and season — and simple ways to help protect employees' eyes.
As many as 50 million people in the United States suffer seasonal allergies, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 Allergies develop when the body’s immune system mistakes certain environmental substances (such as pollen and mold) for invaders — and then produces antibodies, triggering allergic reactions.2
If your employees are seeing red, share these tips to prevent and relieve symptoms:
- Consider the weather when making plans to be outside. Tree, grass and ragweed pollens thrive during cool nights and warm days.3 It’s true that rain washes pollen away, but counts can soar after rainfall.4 This is also the case when strong winds, associated with thunderstorms, can increase the pollen concentration.5
- When pollen and mold counts are high, stay inside and keep windows and doors closed.6
- Shower daily to rinse pollen from your hair and skin.7
- Install furnace filters to trap pollen, pet allergens and mold, and consider purchasing an air purifier.8
- Try wraparound sunglasses to help shield your eyes from pollen.9
- If you wear contact lenses, consider swapping them for frames or using disposable contacts. Longer-wearing contact lenses can gather and store airborne allergens.10
- Eye drops can relieve mild symptoms by washing allergens away. Ask your eye doctor to recommend a few brands.11
- Try a particulate-filtering mask when mowing the grass or doing outdoor chores. Again, change your clothes or a shower and change clothes immediately after.12
More common allergy culprits, by season
Spring. Trees are the earliest seasonal allergen of the year. While most prevalent in the spring, the effects of pollen allergies can appear as early as January in the southern US states and it may be May or June before people in the north feel it.13
Summer. Grass pollen kicks up during late spring and summer for much of the country.14 Though in in humid climates, such as Puerto Rico, it can last several months.15
Fall. Ragweed is a weed that grows throughout the United States, but mostly in the eastern and midwestern states.16 According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, when mid-August nights grow longer, ragweed flowers mature and release pollen; the season peaks in most areas in mid-September.17
Winter. While winter typically provides relief to most seasonal allergy sufferers, some of the worst winter allergies have nothing to do with plants. Nonseasonal or environmental allergies, such as dust mites, cockroaches and pet dander, can be found year-round.18
1 "Allergy Statistics in the US," Allergy & Asthma Network, accessed April 7, 2021.
2 "Allergies: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Management," American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, accessed April 7, 2021.
3 "Relief for Seasonal Allergies," IQAir, accessed April 7, 2021.
4 "Relief for Seasonal Allergies," IQAir, accessed April 7, 2021.
5 "Air Quality and Pollen Forecast for San Juan,"Meteoblue, accessed April 7, 2021.
6 "Seasonal Allergies: Nip them in the bud," Mayo Clinic, April 16, 2020.
7 "Tips for Surviving High Pollen Days," Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, March 21, 2021.
8 "6 Best Air Purifiers for Allergies, Pets, Mold, and Smoke," Healthline, March 17, 2020.
9 "Eye Allergies: How to Get Relief From Itchy, Watery Eyes," by Gary Heiting, OD, February 12, 2018.
10 "Eye Allergies: How to Get Relief From Itchy, Watery Eyes," by Gary Heiting, OD, February 12, 2018.
11 "Eye Allergies: How to Get Relief From Itchy, Watery Eyes," by Gary Heiting, OD, February 12, 2018.
12 "Eye Allergies: How to Get Relief From Itchy, Watery Eyes," by Gary Heiting, OD, February 12, 2018.
13 "Tree Pollen Signals the Onset of Spring," US Home Filter, accessed April 7, 2021.
14 "Seasonal Allergies: A Month-by-Month Guide," Blanchard Valley Health System, accessed April 7, 2021.
15 "Air Quality and Pollen Forecast for San Juan," Meteoblue, accessed April 7, 2021.
16 "Ragweed Pollen Allergy," Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, August 2019.
17 "Ragweed Pollen Allergy," Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, August 2019.
18 "Seasonal Allergies vs. Environmental Allergies/ What's the Difference" ("Seasonal Allergies: Ways to Combat the Sniffles, Sneezes and Snot"), LiveWell, accessed April 7, 2021.