Most people experience allergies. The most common allergies are seasonal and usually involve a runny nose or sneezing, but eyes can also be affected by allergic reactions.
Ocular allergies, just like other allergies, are commonly caused by the same conditions that cause other allergic reactions such as common outdoor allergens like pollen or allergens inside houses such as dust mites, mold, and even pet dander. Some of the symptoms of ocular allergies include itching and burning eyes, watery or teary eyes, redness and even swelling of the eyes.
Testing for ocular allergies
In many cases, ocular allergies may amount to nothing other than slight discomfort but because ocular allergies are often under-diagnosed – a mistake that can lead to undertreatment – it is vitally important to schedule ocular allergy testing if you suspect you have it. Under-diagnosis can lead to missing more acute or chronic forms of ocular allergies such as Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis, a condition which if not properly diagnosed can lead to serious eye damage like corneal ulcers.
Ocular allergy testing is even more imperative because ocular allergies can share the same symptoms and signs with other eye diseases which are more serious such as dry eye, Blepharitis, and Bacterial Conjunctivitis. Blepharitis for instance also leads to eyelid inflammation and has similar symptoms to ocular allergies.
Proper diagnosis and ocular allergy testing are very important. Ocular allergy testing can be done by a qualified ophthalmologist, in any ocular allergy clinic, who will undertake proper diagnosis and offer the right treatment for your specific situation.
Treatments for ocular allergies
Once you go to an ophthalmologist, they will properly diagnose you based on your eye allergy symptoms. Ocular allergy treatment will depend on the underlying causes of the symptoms. If it is your pet that’s the culprit, you may need to keep them out of places such as the bedroom. If it is dust mite, you may need to invest in a good vacuum cleaner to limit dust accumulation and make sure you are changing your house filters on a regular basis.
However, these may not be enough especially for symptoms that arise from seasonal allergens, which can lead to sustained misery for your eyes. In this case, you may need more long-term ocular allergy treatment. This may involve your ophthalmologist prescribing medication such as eye drops to help relieve symptoms.
Many eye drops contain anti-antihistamines, which essentially block your body from producing histamines, the main culprits that cause many of the symptoms associated with allergic reaction including itching, watery eyes, etc.
Your ophthalmologist may also provide you with allergy shots (immunotherapy) as ocular allergy treatment which acts to improve your body’s tolerance to allergens.