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Spring Allergies

Scratching that itch: How allergies are affecting your eyes this spring

allergiesMarch 20th! That’s the first day of spring this year, and while we look ahead to longer and sunnier days filled with playtimes and picnics, we also are on the lookout for those Texas sized allergies that so often plague our area. When we think of allergies we typically think of issues like headaches, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and runny noses. Allergies that affect your eyes aren’t rare, between 40%-60% of those with allergies reported ocular symptoms, with only 10% of patients seeking medical attention.

So what should you be on the lookout for? Well first we’ll start by naming the problem, and that is allergic conjunctivitis, which is a general term to describe disorders that involve the conjunctiva (membrane covering the front of the eye and inside of the eyelids), lid and/or the cornea. Symptoms will largely consist of itching, tearing, white mucus, or a glassy eye appearance.

While a typical suggestion is to manage these symptoms with artificial tears or use a cool compress, it’s important to note that there could be other underlying reasons, like blepharitis or dry eye. Because the signs and symptoms don’t often match, the best advice is to see an optometrist and allow them to diagnose the condition and offer treatments that result in the fewest side effects.

At our practice in Schertz, we specialize in multiple dry eye treatments that go beyond band-aid solutions like artificial tears or antihistamine drops. Currently we are successfully treating patients through BlephEx, Miboflo, and PROKERA depending on the severity of the problems.

BlephEx is a spa-like treatment that removes debris from your eyelids while also exfoliating. It sounds strange, but your eyelids can be host to countless bacteria, film, and mites (bugs!) which will clog your meibomian glands. But don’t worry, the process is relaxing, feels great and is improving the quality of life of our patients that struggle with blepharitis related dry eye on a daily basis.

Miboflo is also a treatment that feels like it belongs in a day spa. We use a special heated tool to massage your eyelids which improves the meibomian gland function. Who would’ve thought to get your eyelids massaged! This gland is responsible for supplying an oily substance that prevents evaporation of the eye’s tear film, a problem that is the leading cause of dry eye. So while you can use artificial tears to feel better for a little while, it’s never addressing the real problem.

PROKERA is an amniotic membrane tissue that has natural therapeutic actions that help damaged eye surfaces heal. It is used to treat a myriad of ocular surface diseases with inflammation as well as chronic dry eye.

Hopefully you can enjoy your spring days and nights with no problems and a clear breath, but if you’re like so many of us Texans who suffer from allergies, don’t admit defeat too easily! We would be happy to help you find the right way to treat your eyes and vision this year!

 

Reference
Greg Black, OD, Julie Tyler, OD. Allergic Conjunctivitis: Causes and Cures. Review of Optometry