Achoo! Part 2

pexels-photo-193038.jpegFor many allergy sufferers mere avoidance of the offending allergens is not enough to prevent symptoms. The first line of treatment is to use high quality over the counter artificial tears which help to lubricate irritated eyes as well as to wash out and dilute the pollen that reaches the eye. Cool compresses are another natural way to relieve symptoms. Although there are a myriad of over the counter topical allergy drops on the market, it is hard to figure out which ones might be right for you, don’t hesitate to make an appointment so we can figure it out. Prescription antihistamine and mast cell inhibitor drops are very effective, and if these are still not enough we can prescribe a pulsed dose of topical steroids to get things under control. In some instances a consult with an allergist may be necessary if there are other systemic symptoms such as asthma, coughing and rashes that are not being addressed. Oral medications or immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be helpful as a more long term solution.

Many other eye conditions can mimic allergy, so it is important not to self-diagnose. Dry eyes can also cause itching, and using an antihistamine, either orally or topically, can make dry eye worse by drying out the ocular surface. Very often contact lens wearers will have to temporarily discontinue contact lens use during allergy season or switch to daily disposables. Putting a fresh contact lens in the eye every day goes a long way in preventing further exposure to pollen and irritants.

Spring and summer should be a fun and enjoyable time of year – don’t let allergies get in the way. Make an appointment with any of our skilled doctors who will tailor an allergy attack plan specifically for your lifestyle.


Achoo! Part 1

pexels-photo-244988.jpegAlthough I’m not 100% sure that spring has actually sprung yet, one thing is for sure – allergy season is in full swing. From a pure ocular perspective, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between allergic conjunctivitis and all the other types of red eyes that are out there. Classic ocular allergy symptoms are red, itchy, and watery eyes that can sometimes be accompanied by swollen eyelids. Many patients will also have a concurrent runny nose with sneezing that appears every season and that makes the diagnosis easier. Outdoor allergens tend to be grasses and tree pollen in the spring and ragweed in late summer/early fall, while indoor allergies (unfortunately annoying all year round) are molds, dust, and pet dander.

Okay, so I have allergies, now what do I do? The best treatment is prevention of the allergic reaction. This of course means not going outside during peak pollen times and/or living in a bubble. Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to do that, so some more practical ideas are running a HEPA filter in the house to trap allergens, keeping windows closed and the AC running, and making sure to shower at night so that when you sleep you are not rolling around breathing the pollen stuck in your hair. Washing bedding and towels frequently as well as dusting and vacuuming is key in removing allergens that are brought in from outdoors as well as the ones that lurk inside. Wraparound sunglasses are great not only for UV protection, but for physically stopping allergens from blowing into your eyes.

In the next blog we will discuss what to do if simple avoidance of allergens is not enough to prevent symptoms.


Chani Miller, OD