Fall can be a nightmare if you have allergies, especially ocular allergies or allergic conjunctivitis. This sounds worse than it is; basically the body launches the immune system against a foreign object seen as a threat and the result is an allergic reaction leading to dry, itchy eyes. Depending on the type of ocular allergy, the symptoms of dry, burning or itchy eyes can occur seasonally or perennially (throughout the year). In order to pinpoint your triggers, its best to see a health care provider for an allergy test. Then you will know how to avoid certain things within your control, such as pet dander and dust mites.
Read more about treating and allergies
Here are some natural ways to relieve dry, itchy eyes:
For prevention, sunglasses provide a physical barrier from the elements and help to protect sensitive eyes.
1. Herbal Compresses
A compress is made when a soft cotton cloth is dipped in an herbal infusion and applied to the eyelids.
You can also go to an herbalist and have them prepare an infusion for you if you don't feel comfortable making your own.
2. Warm compresses
The following herbs are used for eye conditions:
Chamomile is a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory perfect for allergic reactions.
Eyebright is traditionally used for conjunctivitis (swelling of the membrane lining the eye) and can also be taken in pill form to support eye function. (Read how to make an Eyebright eye wash.)
Chickweed is used for conjunctivitis as it pulls out toxins and poisons.
Elderflower is an anti-inflammatory when applied topically.
3. Cool compresses
Rose petals can be made into a tea for the compress for relief from swollen eyes and puffiness.
Calendula (it was named herb of the year in 2008 by the International Herb Association) is an anti-inflammatory; it can also be used for scrapes, burns and bruises and even sties.
Agrimony is used as a soothing eye wash for irritated eyes.
You've seen it in the movies and in every spa picture ever taken: a woman lounging in a white towel with cucumber slices on her eyes. It's a relief to know that there is an actual point to this. Sliced cucumbers contain antioxidants and flavonoids that can reduce eye inflammation and irritation. So, if you've been petting your neighbor's cat and your eyes swelled to the size of baseballs, get out the cucumber from your crisper!
You can use all of these remedies to provide relief once your allergic reactions start, but the best thing to do is find out what is causing the reactions in the first place.
You can also allergy-proof your home as much as possible. Use a humidifier in the home for drier climates and/or an air purifier to reduce the risk of dust mites and other air born allergens. Purchase hypoallergenic pillows and bedding to minimize reactions to wool, feathers, etc. Above all else, taking care of your own health keeps your immune system strong and better able to cope with the environment.