Getting ready for fall: Managing seasonal allergies while wearing contacts

By Dr. Giovanna Olivares, OD, FAAO; Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Director & Staff Writer

The changing of green leaves to a landscape of reds, oranges and yellows is a telltale sign that fall is here. Unfortunately, it can also mean the arrival of seasonal allergies. If you love the crisp autumn air but dread the itchy, watery eyes that come with it, you're not alone. In this blog post, we'll explore the impact of fall allergies on eye health and share valuable tips for managing them while wearing contact lenses. With the right strategies, you can enjoy the beauty of the season without compromising your visual clarity or comfort.

Understanding fall seasonal allergies

Many associate seasonal allergies with spring alone, but fall can pack a punch, too. Fall allergies, often triggered by ragweed pollen, mold spores, and dust mites, can wreak havoc on your eyes. The common symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Excessive watering

Allergy tips for contact lens wearers

Allergies are a nuisance all on their own, but wearing contacts can add a layer of difficulty. The itching can tempt you to touch your eyes, which can introduce germs, move your lens out of place and even scratch your eye. Here are some tips to follow to help keep your eyes safe and comfortable.

1. Minimize allergen exposure
  • Keep windows closed. This can prevent pollen and mold spores from entering your living space from outside.
  • Use air purifiers HEPA filters to help remove allergens from the air.
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands, avoiding rubbing your eyes, and changing clothes after spending time outdoors.
2. Practice proper lens hygiene (for reusable lenses)
  • Using the instructions provided by your eye care professional, clean and disinfect your lenses regularly to help remove allergens and debris.

See Lens Care Tips

  • Use preservative-free solutions to minimize the risk of irritation and sensitivity caused by certain chemicals.

Consider ACUVUE RevitaLens

3. Opt for the convenience and comfort of daily disposable lenses
  • Fresh and clean lenses every day help to both minimize the accumulation of allergens and reduce the risk of irritation. Preservatives in contact lens solutions can be a source of irritation in some people. With daily disposables, you don't need to worry about cleaning and storing your lenses, eliminating the exposure to preservatives in the solutions. Simply discard them at the end of the day, ensuring a hassle-free and comfortable experience.

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4. Allergy medications and eye drops

Consider using over-the-counter allergy medications and eye drops to alleviate symptoms. Consult with your healthcare provider for appropriate recommendations of medications and how to use them safely with your contact lenses.

5. Consult with an eye care professional

Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss your seasonal allergy symptoms and explore suitable contact lens options.

Find An Eye Doctor

Don't let fall allergies hinder your enjoyment of this beautiful season. By following these eye health tips, you could find some relief and take in the changing colors of autumn without needing to reach for the tissue box.

About the author

Giovanna E. Olivares, OD, FAAO

About the author

Giovanna E. Olivares, OD, FAAO is the Global Director, Specialty Platforms Research & Development, at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care (JJVC). In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the strategy, design, and development of new products to support the company’s global Astigmatism and Presbyopia platforms. In 2017 under her leadership, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, launched ACUVUE® Oasys 1-Day with Hydroluxe® for Astigmatism and ACUVUE® Vita® for Astigmatism to meet our patients’ needs. In 2021, her team launched ACUVUE® OASYS MULTIFOCAL with PUPIL OPTIMIZED design. Recently in September, 2022, she launched ACUVUE® OASYS MAX MULTIFOCAL for presbyopia patients. Dr. Olivares joined Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. in 2004 as Sr. Manager of the R&D Design Clinical Research Group. In this role, she led a multidisciplinary group including Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, Vision Scientists, and Biostatisticians responsible for the development of new innovative contact lens products and clinical methodology. Under her leadership, the group launched several brands including ACUVUE® ADVANCE for ASTIGMATISM, ACUVUE® OASYS for ASTIGMATISM, and 1-DAY ACUVUE® MOIST for ASTIGMATISM. Under her leadership, the first validated patient questionnaire for JJVC was developed, CLUE (Contact Lens User Experience). In 2010, she was appointed to the position of Director of Professional Education, responsible for developing innovative educational programs across the spectrum of students, eye care professionals, Professional Affairs Consultants, and the company’s Sales & Marketing organizations. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson Vision, Dr. Olivares served as the Director of Clinical and Professional Development for Unilens Corp. USA, where she developed contact lens designs for presbyopia. Additionally, she has practiced in an ophthalmology practice, private optometric practice, retail optometry, and as a technical medical consultant at TLC, a center for LASIK surgery. Dr. Olivares received her BS degree from the University of Rochester and her OD degree from the State University of New York (SUNY). She subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Ocular Disease management at the SUNY College of Optometry. After her fellowship, she joined the SUNY faculty as an Assistant Professor with clinical and didactic teaching responsibilities in the areas of contact lenses, ocular disease, pediatric/binocular vision, and primary care. Dr. Olivares is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, has authored numerous scientific articles and has lectured internationally on contact lens technology and fitting for success.

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