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In ocular allergy your eyes are overreacting to a substance perceived as harmful, even though it may not be. These substances are called allergens. Allergies can trigger other problems, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye). About 40 percent of U.S. residents have allergy symptoms. And in about 50 percent of those patients, it affects the eyes.


Signs and Symptoms


  • Itchy, red eyes and swollen eyelids

  • Runny nose

  • Sneezing and coughing

  • Itchy nose, mouth or throat

  • Headache from sinus congestion


Causes of Eye Allergies


Many allergens are in the air, where they come in contact with your eyes and nose. Airborne allergens include pollen, mold, dust and pet dander. Adverse reactions to certain cosmetics or drugs such as antibiotic eye drops also may cause eye allergies. Some people can be allergic to the preservatives in eye drops such as those used to lubricate dry eyes. In this case, you may need to use a preservative-free brand.


Eye Allergy Treatment


The most common treatment is to avoid what's causing your eye allergy. Itchy eyes? Keep your home free of pet dander and dust and keep pets off the furniture. Stay inside with the air conditioner on when a lot of pollen is in the air. Use high quality furnace filters that trap common allergens and replace the filters frequently. Make sure you wear wraparound sunglasses to help shield your eyes from allergens, and drive with your windows closed during allergy season.  



Advice for Eye Allergy Sufferers


Get an early start. See Dr. Scheno before allergy symptoms start this year to learn how to reduce your sensitivity to allergens.


Try to avoid what's causing your eye allergies, whenever possible.


Don't rub your eyes if they itch! This will release more histamine and make your eye allergy symptoms worse.


Use plenty of artificial tears to wash airborne allergens from your eyes. Dr. Scheno currently recommends Systane and Optive.


Cut down your contact lens wear or switch to daily disposable lenses to reduce the build-up of allergens on your lenses.


Consider purchasing an air purifier for your home, and purchase an allergen-trapping filter for your furnace.



Anti-Allergy Therapies



Common causes of excessively watery eyes are allergies and dry eye syndrome — two very different problems. With allergies, your body's release of histamine causes your eyes to water, just as it may cause your nose to run. It may seem illogical that dry eye syndrome could cause watery eyes. But sometimes an underlying dry eye condition stimulates your tear glands to overproduce the watery component of your eye's tears as a protective response, leading to watery eyes. Decongestants clear up redness. They contain vasoconstrictors, which make the blood vessels in your eyes smaller, lessening the apparent redness. They treat a symptom but not the cause of eye allergies. In fact, with extended use, the blood vessels can become dependent on the vasoconstrictor to stay small. When you discontinue the eye drops, the vessels actually get bigger than they were in the beginning. This process is called rebound hyperemia, and the result is that your red eyes could worsen over time. Some products have ingredients that act as mast cell stabilizers, which alleviate redness and swelling. Mast cell stabilizers are similar to antihistamines. But while antihistamines are known for their immediate relief, mast cell stabilizers are known for their long-lasting relief. Antihistamines, decongestants and mast cell stabilizers are available in pill form, but pills don't work as quickly as eye drops or gels to bring eye relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) eye drops may be prescribed to decrease swelling, inflammation and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, also called hay fever. Prescription corticosteroid eye drops also may provide similar, quick relief. However, steroids have been associated with side effects such as increased inner eye pressure (intraocular pressure) leading to glaucoma and damage to optic nerve. Steroids also have been known to cause the eye's natural lens to become cloudy, producing cataracts. Check the product label or insert for a list of side effects of over-the-counter medications. Dr. Scheno will recommend the appropriate treatment given the severity of your situation.



Allergies and Contact Lenses


Even if you are generally a successful contact lens wearer, allergy season can make your contacts uncomfortable. Airborne allergens can get on your lenses, causing discomfort. Allergens also can stimulate the excessive production of natural substances in your tears, which can bind to your contacts and cause blur and additional discomfort. Ask Dr. Scheno about eye drops that can help relieve your symptoms and keep your contact lenses clean. Certain drops can discolor or damage certain lenses, so it makes sense to ask first before trying out a new brand. Another alternative is daily disposable contact lenses, which are discarded nightly. Because you replace them so frequently, these types of lenses are unlikely to develop irritating deposits that can build up over time and cause or heighten allergy-related discomfort. Make an appointment with Dr. Scheno to determine the best course of action.


There are many new FDA approved allergy treatments that are currently available on Long Island. If you suffer from keratoconus or other autoimmune allergy issue like eczema or psoriasis or have what you perceive as contact lens related itching that won't seem to get better with conventional treatments you owe it to yourself to visit our office. There are many effective new treatments available to deal with eye allergies such as new topical steroids, immunomodulators like Restasis, antihistamine and mast cell stabilizers such as Pataday and other unique therapies such as amniotic membrane therapy and nutritional therapy there are many options to deal with this underdiagnosed and undermanaged medical issue. Most services are covered under your major medical insurance.


Call us today at 516.409.2020 for an evaluation and begin a life without eye rubbing and itchyness today.

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