We’ve had a long winter with several late Spring snowfalls. Finally we’re in full Spring/Summer swing, cottonwoods are showering us with their snowy seeds, pollen is falling around us, wildfires are filling our normally clear skies with haze and fine particles – Allergic Conjunctivitis is also making its presence known.
Seasonal or Vernal Allergic Conjunctivitis
The eyeball is covered (and surrounded) by a clear membrane-like tissue called the conjunctiva. It is also vascularized. When inflamed, irritated or infected it will often become pinkish or reddish, swell and become ‘chemotic’ or watery-looking. Allergic Conjunctivitis pushes all these buttons and can make a set or pretty eyes not so pretty looking.
This bothersome eye condition pairs with seasonal allergies in that it often exists with nasal (runny nose) and throat symptoms as well. The eye symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- excessive watering or tearing
- scratchy sensation as if sand was stuck in the eye
- foreign body / eyelash in the eye feeling
- swelling, puffy eyes
- pain or burning
- itching / itchy eyes
Some sufferers receive allergy shots over a period of many months to help build up immunities to problem pollen and molds. The allergy shots will make the allergic reactions less severe but will not completely cure the patient. Some of the most common treatments for perennial conjunctivitis are as follows:
- Antihistamine drops (dropped directly into the eyes)
- Vaso-constrictors (reduces swelling and redness)
- Steroid drops (reduces swelling and redness)
- Cold compresses on the eye to relieve redness and swelling
- Note: Do not wear contact lenses during a flare up of allergic conjunctivitis
- Staying away from the allergens if possible and washing your hands and face often to remove allergens
- Oral antihistamines (taken by mouth)
Antihistamine drops usually relieve symptoms within a few minutes of instillation whereas oral medication may take up to an hour to work. Topical (drop) treatments are extremely effective, especially in prescription strength. The drops immediately have effect on the tissues with minimal time needed (compared to oral medications which may take up to an hour to be metabolized). Continued use of prescription anti-histamine topical drops will stabilize the mast cells which release the histamine – further calming the eyes and surrounding tissues down.
Take oral antihistamines ahead of time if you know you will be coming in contact with something you are allergic to (think Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra). However, oral antihistamines can cause unwanted side effects such as sleepiness (Benadryl or Di-phenhydramine), dryness in the mouth, nose and eyes and mood swings. Also, it is quite common to continue to have ocular allergic reactions even when taking oral medications. This is because allergens can come into direct contact with tissue on the eye’s surface and trigger immediate, non-cell mediated reactions which are tempered by the more internalized actions of oral medications.
Improper treatment for allergic conjunctivitis can lead to a bacterial infection in the eyes or the sinuses. When symptoms simply don’t go away after using typical over-the-counter re-wetting drops or cool compresses, it is highly advised to see your eye doctor to for relief.
I am happy to see you on an immediate walk-in basis. No need to suffer with allergies affecting your eyes.
I personally look forward to providing you fast and effective relief from allergies which affect your eyes!