NEW YORK—It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for—spring is officially just a few days away. Everything starts to come back to life: leaves return to the trees, the grass regains its color and as the earth softens, flower come into bloom. But along with enjoying the beauty of springtime, that also means saying hello to an old friend—pesky seasonal allergies! While some stop to smell the roses, others are busy battling red, itchy, swollen eyes, incessant sneezing and general discomfort. Not exactly the ideal way to ring in a new season.

“An allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts to an allergen that is normally harmless. When an allergen comes in contact with your eye, certain cells within your eye (called mast cells) release histamine and other substances to fight off the allergen. This reaction causes your eyes to become red, itchy and watery,” the American Academy of Ophthalmology  (AAO) stated on its website.

According to the AAO some common symptoms of eye allergies include: red, swollen or itchy eyes, burning or tearing up of the eyes as well as sensitivity to lights. If that wasn’t enough, eye allergies are oftentimes accompanied by nasal allergies (so fun!).

When dealing with allergies the most important thing to do is to identify and try to avoid triggers (pollen, pet dander, dust, etc.) an article from WebMD stated. For some that means tracking the day’s pollen count or running the air conditioner instead of having the windows open.

In addition to this, wearing sunglass outside as well as opting for eyeglasses instead of contact lenses can help ease discomfort and act as a layer of protection against certain allergens.

For those who regularly wear makeup it might also be worth a try to minimize the eye makeup or even skip it altogether. But remember whatever methods you choose to adhere to, keep your hands to yourself and wash them often. Rubbing will only exacerbate irritation.

And for individuals who experience serious reactions, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor for a prescribed treatment or suggestions for OTC options.

Happy Spring, everyone!