1) Please describe the more common symptoms, as well as some of the less common and less known symptoms of Eye Allergies.
More common symptoms include itching, watering, redness and swelling of the eyes or eyelids. Less common symptoms can include burning, excessive eye rubbing and foreign body sensation (the feeling that something is in the eyes).
It is important to note that the above symptoms can also be a sign of an eye infection or other ocular conditions so you should always be checked by an eye doctor in Lafayette LA.
2) How can patients tell the difference between true ocular allergies and dry eye syndrome?
Both conditions can present with itching and a foreign body or scratchy sensation. When it comes to true ocular allergies itching is the hallmark symptom. The feeling of grittiness or a sandy feeling of the eyes is more commonly dry eyes. Many times the conditions are seen together.
Most patients do not realize that over the counter oral antihistamines and decongestants have a tendency to dry out the eyes. Dry eye treatment is often necessary in conjunction with treating ocular allergies.
3) What causes Eye Allergies?
When you are exposed to an allergen, cells in your eyes called mast cells release histamine and other chemicals that cause inflammation. This is where the itching, redness and watering come from.
Seasonal eye allergies are most commonly caused by pollen and mold spores. Perennial allergies are often caused by dust mites and pet dander. Short term allergic reactions can also occur if exposed to something you are sensitive to such as makeup or perfume.
4) Is it true that there are certain times of the year that are worse, or is the whole year a problem?
For some people it is seasonal, such as when the trees and grass pollinate. For others it is all year around if they are sensitive to pet dander or dust mites.
5) What type of treatment options are available for patients that come in to see their optometrist in Lafayette LA with eye allergy symptoms?
If over the counter treatment does not help, drops can be prescribed. The type of drop depends on the severity of the allergies. If severe it can be treated with a short term mild ocular steroid drop to help quickly relieve the symptoms. Most of the time the symptoms can be maintained with a long term mast cell stabilizer/antihistamine combination drop once a day.
6) Are there treatments for eye allergies that offer permanent relief, or only temporary?
Removing or avoiding what triggers the allergic response would be a permanent solution. That is not always possible so there are treatment options such as the mast cell stabilizer/antihistamine combination drops that can be used as long term management.
7) Is it possible to wear contact lenses without causing additional discomfort?
Yes. The best option for contact lens wearers would be daily disposable contact lenses. Each day you put on a new pair and this helps decrease the allergens in the eyes. This is sometimes done in conjunction with a prescribed drop once a day to control the symptoms.
8) Can you provide general recommendations that may help people suffering from Eye Allergies?
Obviously if you know what the cause of the allergy is try to stay away from it as much as possible. Cool compresses help decrease the symptoms of itching and artificial tears kept in the refrigerator can also provide soothing/cooling relief.