Fall Allergies Can Leave You Seeing Red

Trees and leaves during fall

Autumn can be a wonderful time of year for many. But for those with allergies, fall also means the misery of red, itchy, watery eyes, dark circles, swollen eyelids, and even pink eye and other eye infections.

If you suffer from fall eye allergies, there are several things you can do to get relief safely and effectively.

Fall allergy triggers

In the fall, people also are exposed to factors they’re not exposed to during the rest of the year. Leaves on the ground can harbor mold spores, triggering allergies. Additionally, when the furnace is first turned on during the cooler days and nights of fall, it can stir up the waste products from dust mites, which proliferate in the warmth and humidity of summer.

The result is red, itchy eyes that can be alternately watery AND dry, not to mention the dark circles and sinus pressure. Worse yet, research shows that fall allergies can also have a significant impact on verbal learning and decision-making speed and psychomotor speed, as well as a reduced ability to concentrate.1-2

Easing fall eye allergies

While there’s no cure-all for easing the ocular irritation that comes from fall allergies, there are several things you can do to help reduce the severity of the symptoms.

First and foremost, avoid the allergy triggers in the first place. If you cannot get around mowing the lawn or raking leaves, wear a face mask and shower immediately after to avoid build up and prolonged exposure to pollen and mold. Also be sure to wear wraparound sunglasses to help keep pollen out of your eyes, particularly when gardening or doing lawn work.

Speaking of glasses, during allergy season, consider trading your contact lenses for eyeglasses. Contact lenses can attract airborne allergens. To avoid buildup, either opt for eyeglasses in the fall or try disposable contacts.

Next, eye drops can provide much needed relief to dry, red, itchy eyes. Over-the-counter drops can usually do the trick, but if you need a bit more help, your eye care professional can prescribe medications such as corticosteroids, antihistamines, and decongestants to reduce your body’s response to allergens. If you do choose to use corticosteroid eye drops, be sure to use for short-term relief, as long-term usage can increase the risk for glaucoma and cataracts.

Lastly, if you want to do the natural route, give baking soda and/or quercetin a try. Baking soda has been shown to not only relieve allergy symptoms, but also stop the allergic response in its tracks.3-4 Mix ½-1 teaspoon of baking soda in 4 ounces of filtered water and drink every 1-2 hours until symptoms subside.

Similarly, quercetin—a flavonoid known to have antiallergenic effects—has been found to be highly effective in inhibiting the release of histamine.5-7 Aim for 300–600 mg of quercetin once or twice a day.


  1. Marshall PS and Colon EA. Effects of allergy season on mood and cognitive function. Ann Allergy. 1993 Sep;71(3):251-8.
  2. Meltzer EO. The prevalence and medical and economic impact of allergic rhinitis in the United States. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Jun;99(6 Pt 2):S805-28.
  3. Buysse CM, et al. Life-threatening asthma in children: treatment with sodium bicarbonate reduces PCO2. Chest. 2005 Mar;127(3):866-70.
  4. Mansmann HC Jr, et al. Treatment of severe respiratory failure during status asthmaticus in children and adolescents using high flow oxygen and sodium bicarbonate. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1997 Jan;78(1):69-73.
  5. Chirumbolo S. Quercetin as a potential anti-allergic drug: which perspectives? Iran J Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 Jun;10(2):139-40.
  6. Shaik YB. Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2006 Jul-Dec;20(3-4):47-52.
  7. Park HH, et al. Flavonoids inhibit histamine release and expression of proinflammatory cytokines in mast cells. Arch Pharm Res. 2008 Oct;31(10):1303-11.
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