Tree pollen could lead to certain type of pink eye - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Tree pollen could lead to certain type of pink eye

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(Image Courtesy: MGN Online / P33tr / Wikipedia) (Image Courtesy: MGN Online / P33tr / Wikipedia)

Spring officially begins tomorrow and with it, concern specifically for children about a certain spring allergy.

It may surprise many people to know that spring allergy season is a peak time for pink eye and kids, especially boys, are particularly prone to one form of pink eye caused by a certain type of pollen.

Despite a few snow storms recently, we in western Massachusetts have seen a fair number of warmer days mixed in. 

That means buds on many trees have already started to pop.  

It turns out that tree pollen is to blame for something called spring catarrh.

"So spring catarrh, catarrh is another word that can mean running or itchy watery eyes, so it's actually a form of allergic conjunctivitis," said Dr. David Robertson with Allergy and Immunology Associates of New England.

Research shows young children, especially boys, are particularly vulnerable, but unlike traditional pink eye, spring catarrh is not infectious.   

However, how can you tell if it's pink eye or spring catarrh?

"If it's both eyes, if its persisting more than a week or two, if its accompanied by nasal congestion or allergy symptoms, that could be a sign," Robertson added.

Robertson told Western Mass News that symptoms include the tell tale red, swollen eyes. 
"The most severe, you can actually have the eyes swell shut.  The white part of the eye can actually swell as well and get discharge coming from the eyes," Robertson noted.

Over-the-counter antihistamines will help.

"There are allergy eye drops, antihistamine eye drops that can help.  There are over the counter options," Robertson explained.

If getting drops in your child's eyes is usually impossible, "a trick you can do, you can actually take the tip of the bottle, and as long as you put it in the corner of the eye and kind of tip it up and as long as fluid touches fluid, some medicine will get into the eyes," Robertson said. 

Pollen counts are expected to rise within the next three weeks. 

If your child starts to get those itchy eyes, Robertson said that a trip to the doctor is recommended before starting any medication.

Robertson said that eye drops are often associated with a burning sensation, but here's another trick: keeping eye drops refrigerated will alleviate any discomfort. 

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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