Image courtesy of Men's Health

Seek the shade during the season of sniffling. Wearing sunglasses may help ward off allergy symptoms, a new study from Turkey finds.

The researchers administered nasal spray and loratadine (Claritin) to seasonal-allergy sufferers, then asked half of the patients to wear sunglasses during the day. The group that sported shades required significantly less anthistamine and reported fewer eye-related symptoms.

How come? Sunglasses physically block out pollen, as well as UV rays -- both of which can stimulate allergy symptoms in your eyes, says Leonard Bielory, M.D., of Rutgers University, who wasn't affiliated with the study. "This doesn't surprise me," he says. "We tell people that contact lenses improve ocular allergy, and when an ocular allergy is improved, nasal allergy improves." That's because your eyes and nose are directly connected in what Dr. Bielory calls a "reflex arc." (To get sweet relief for all of your sniffling and sneezing, here are The Top Allergy Myths -- Debunked.)

The shades used in the study were large, wraparound-style lenses. Not exactly stylish -- but definitely effective. In order to fight off allergies, you need to decrease the amount of air that circulates over your eye, Dr. Bielory explains. "If you just have a plain piece of glass between you and the outside world, with open space in between, air currents can go behind it," he says. "The more blockage you have on the sides, top, and bottom -- where it touches the cheek, the eyebrow, and the temple region -- the more you decrease the amount of pollen that gets in."

That said, your aviators may still help -- just not as much. Since light exposure can exacerbate allergy symptoms in your eyes, Dr. Bielory points out, standard UV-blocking shades may help control symptoms, too. (Don't fall into the medicine trap! Check out these 5 Allergy Medicines to Avoid.)

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