As we put another cold and snowy winter behind us, we can now look forward to spring and nicer weather. For me and millions of others, however, instead of fresh spring breezes blowing through the open windows, it is three to four weeks of sneezing and red, itchy, watery eyes due to seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies are usually due to outdoor allergans such as grass, tree, and weed pollens. Perennial (year-round) allergies can cause similar signs and symptoms and are usually caused by indoor allergans such as pet dander, dust mites, and mold.
Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts. The body then attempts to fight off the threat. When the allergan (mold, pollen etc) comes in contact with the conjunctiva of the eye, histamine is released which causes the eyes to become red, itchy, watery, and sometimes swollen. Because the eye is directly exposed to the allergan, unlike the inside of the nose or the throat, the eye is an easy target. Thus, allergic conjunctivitis can occur without any nasal symptoms.
Many people self-treat their allergies successfully. Keep in mind that oral medications are great for nasal symptoms but poor for treating the eye because not enough of the drug reaches the eye. Eye drops are the best treatment for allergic conjunctivitis. Older over-the-counter drops such as Opcon-A are not the best choice because they work for a short time and can, in fact, cause redness if used too frequently. Newer over-the-counter drops such as Alaway and Zaditor are a better choice. As for myself, I recommend and use once-a-day Pataday which is available by prescription.
Those who wear contact lenses present additional challenges. During this time when allergies are at their peak, contacts need to be cleaned more diligently, disposed more often, or possibly not worn at all on certain days. Some of my patients switch to a 1-day disposable contact lens for a short period so that they can be assured of using a clean, fresh lens every day until their allergies subside.
If you suffer from eye allergies and would like to discuss treatment strategies, please call our office and schedule an appointment.
With sping upon us and summer right around the corner, many people are looking for new sunwear. We recently received a nice selection of Banana Republic sunglasses for both men and women. They are trendy, made of good quality, and affordable. In addition, we also carry Wiley X protectivewear/sunwear. Some of these frames have a removable insert which motorcylists like because it keeps the wind out of their eyes. If you are looking for a new pair of sunglasses, please come by and take a look at our selection.
Finally, as always, stop in, email me, or call if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you to all of you for your patronage and entrusting me with your eyes.
Dr. Mike Wojton