The change of the seasons usually means many people will start suffering from environmental allergies. Even during the colder winter months, there are irritants that will attack the eyes of allergy prone people. Since allergies and their symptoms are so common, it there are many methods for caring for the eyes when symptoms strike. Allergies can happen at any time, and those commercials where they use military words like "assault" and "strike" are actually good descriptors. Even people without allergies can develop an allergic reaction to something later in life. That is why you are asked during each eye exam if you have allergies.
Pollens, mold, pet dander or other environmental source can cause allergies. Contact lens wearers can be allergic to certain eye drops even. When someone who suffers from allergies is exposed to the irritant, a number of automatic responses from the body will happen naturally. Sneezing and nasal congestion are common, but the eyes also play into allergies in a big way.
When eyes come in contact with irritants, they will try and flush out the attacking microbes. The eyes will water and mucus will do its best to get rid of the allergies. If exposure is high enough, the eyes will become red and puffy as a reaction to what is causing the allergies. It's a miserable experience. When I suffer from allergies, I tell people I'm a leaky faucet.
The picture above of those spiky dodgeballs are actually what pollen look like a at microscopic level. Some people have a natural immunity to them and others are entirely susceptible to them and have to wait for the eye to kick in its defense if they are unable to get away from the pollen fast enough.
When allergies occur, there are a few things that can be done to ease the discomfort. The first thing is avoid what is causing problems in the first place. The best treatment is to eliminate or drastically reduce the amount of time near known allergy sources (such as flowers, cats or dust). It really goes back to the old adage of, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." If that doesn't work or is impossible to do, there are medications out there that help manage the symptoms. There are over-the-counter solutions, however, it is best to consult a doctor before taking anything. If there is an allergy to eye drop solutions, there are other brands with different formulas that will hopefully not cause the same reaction.
Just keep some tissues handy, just in case.
Allergies are a problem, but they can be managed. Knowing what causes the allergies and avoiding the irritants is the best way to deal with them. Contact lens wears should make it a point to tell their eye doctor if they have environmental or other types of allergies so they can be fitted with contacts that won't bother them if they are chronic sufferers.