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Ocular surface specialist, beauty expert offer advice to help patients this allergy season

May 6, 2013

During allergy season, many women find themselves reaching for tissues and wondering why they even bothered putting on eye makeup in the morning.

According to nationally recognized beauty expert Polly Blitzer, women often report that eye allergy symptoms such as red, puffy eyes make them look exhausted or like they have been crying. Itchy eyes can also lead to frequent rubbing of the eyes, which can cause makeup to smudge.

“As a result, many women say they feel tired and unattractive during allergy season. That’s at least three months per year of potential misery,” said Blitzer. “Additionally, many contact lens wearers with eye allergies say that their allergy symptoms make them feel ‘uncomfortable’ when wearing their contacts and cause disruption to their beauty routines.”

Noted educator, author and optometrist Paul Karpecki, O.D., agreed.

“Allergy season is particularly challenging for some contact lens wearers because allergens and other irritants can build up on contacts over time, leading to discomfort and symptoms such as itching, tearing and redness,” he said.

While approximately one in three individuals is affected by seasonal eye allergies, allergy season doesn’t necessarily mean patients’ beauty routines need to get ugly. To help them look and feel in “full bloom” (even when the pollen is as well), suggest these health and beauty tips from Dr. Karpecki and Polly Blitzer.

Feeling one’s best

  • For allergy sufferers who want to wear or remain in contacts, Dr. Karpecki recommends daily disposable lenses such as 1-Day Acuvue® Moist® Brand Contact Lenses.

“Studies have shown that daily disposable contacts can be a healthy and more comfortable option for many people, including those with eye allergies,” he said. “Putting in a clean, fresh lens every day minimizes the potential for accumulation of allergens and irritants that can often build up with repeated use of the same pair of lenses.”

  • Dr. Karpecki also recommends being cautious with allergy pills that claim to ease allergy symptoms.

“Quite frequently, allergy medication can dry the eyes. If you must take an allergy pill, I generally recommend you take it at night so the drying effect is not as dramatic. Talk to your doctor about what medication(s) are best for you,” he said.

  • Use transient-preserved or preservative-free artificial tears.

“People who suffer from eye allergy symptoms may also find that the preservatives in artificial tears can cause discomfort,” said Karpecki.

He also recommended using allergy drops, which are prescribed by a doctor.

“I tell my patients to put the drops in each eye in the morning before inserting contact lenses and then put a drop in at night after they remove their lenses,” he said.

  • Talk to an eye care professional about any questions or concerns you have regarding eye health or the proper wear and care of your contact lenses. He or she can work with you to determine the appropriate lens and replacement frequency for you, as well as other solutions to eye related problems.

Looking one’s best

  • “Put in your contact lenses before applying any makeup,” said Blitzer. “This will help prevent makeup residue from getting on your lenses, so you’ll avoid eye irritation from makeup particles.”
  • Blitzer also suggested using a cold compress to ease redness, puffiness and dark circles – or trying cold, sliced fresh potatoes underneath the eyes – the enzyme catecholase (or catechol oxidase) helps diminish dark circles.
  • To offset bloodshot eyes, Blitzer recommended using bluish eyeliner on your inner rims.
  • Blitzer also recommended using waterproof formulas for mascara and eyeliner, as allergy-sufferers are often prone to watery, teary eyes, which can cause the “raccoon” effect. In case patients are tearing up, an oil-absorbing sheet can be used to blot into lower lashes, and remove hints of oil and waxiness.

To help allergy sufferers better understand and manage their condition, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) offers a free educational brochure titled “Eye Health and Allergies.” The brochure, which also includes smart allergy season strategies for contact lens wearers, is available at www.aafa.org/eyeallergies. The brochure, along with a free trial-pair certificate for 1-Day Acuvue® Moist® contacts is also available at www.acuvue.com/seasons.

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