allergies and The Eyes

When we watch the weather this time of the year, along with the temperature and forecast, the biggest  bit of information provided is the pollen count.

Pollen are airborn allergies picked up and carried by winds.  Already this year,  they are in full bloom here in the south, with the counts lower in the northern states until the weather starts to warm.They are created by various trees, grasses, and weeds coming alive in the spring, that cause irritation to people’s eyes and skin.  The pollen count is expressed in grains of pollen per square meter of air collected over a 24 hour period.  Counts tend to be higher in the morning on warm breezy days, and lower on cool, wet days.  If you come out and see your car covered in yellow/green mist on any given day, you can bet the pollen has arrived.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are over 67 million Americans who suffer from pollen allergies.  Whether its skin rashes, upper respiratory or eye irritation, pollen makes life miserable for about a quarter of all Americans.

In the body, the allergens are fought off by antibodies called Immunoglobulin (IgE).  In the eyes, some of the most common allergy effects include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sandy/gritty sensation
  • Watery discharge from one or both eyes
  • Pink discoloration to the whites of the eyes
  • Eyelid swelling

AllergiesThese symptoms can occur alone or together, along with nasal symptoms (rhinitis) or skin rashes.  Regardless, they can make one of the nicest times of the year miserable for people who experience allergies and like to spend time outdoors.

We here at Metrolina Eye Associates are well trained in what to look for when a patient presents with symptoms that coincide with ocular allergies.  Metrolina Eye uses test such as the TearLab and InflammaDry to determine the amount of inflammation in the eye.  InflammaDry®,  in particular, identifies elevated levels of an inflammatory marker, telling us if inflammation is present.  Often times, itching and lid inflammation is evident in these patients.  Most often, this effects both eyes, but patients may experience symptoms worse in one eye or the other.

Some great tips on ways you can curb the allergen effects include:

  • cleaning your home with a HEPA-filtered vacuum
  • Changing your airfilters regularly
  • using sunglass outdoors
  • rinsing your eyes out with saline after spending time outdoors

We here at Metrolina Eye use a variety of treatments to help patients suffering from these symptoms.  Those include:

  • Anti-histamines- oral medications or drops
  • Steroids – drops or creams
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammory- drops or creams

If you’re effected by any of these symptoms, it is important to be checked out by an eye doctor as they often are indistinguishable or occur concurrently with other disorders or ocular infections.  We here at Metrolina Eye have the tools and knowledge to diagnose and treat whatever your ocular problem may be to keep your eyes healthy and vision clear no matter what the issue.

By Sean Pitale, OD