Ocular Allergy Treatment Options
Most people associate allergies with runny noses, sinus congestion and sneezing, but in fact allergies can affect various organs, including the eyes. Because the eyes are often a significant component of your allergies, they deserve specific attention and treatment. Many who have ocular allergies experience itching as the primary source of discomfort, though some people have no itchiness but instead experience a burning sensation that causes them to rub their eyes. Other common symptoms include redness, lid swelling, tearing, light sensitivity, “grittiness” and swollen eye.
Typically, all allergy antihistamine treatments (topical, inhaled, nasal, oral, injectable) exacerbate dry eye. It is important to perform allergy skin testing to determine if allergy therapy is even needed and if so what times of the year (seasonal versus perennial need). Avoidance allergens is the primary treatment of choice and addition of portable HEPA air filters, utilization of dust mite covers for bed liners and pillow, frequent washing of towels, and regular shampooing of carpets, and even showers at night before bedtime all reduce allergen loads that insult your immune system. For the eyes specifically, use of cool compresses, chilled artificial tears, and topical antihistamines are useful, and Dr. Jackson prefers topical antihistamines that have the least dry eye side effects such as Bepreve or Lastacaft. With acute flare ups of inflammation, topical, nasal, and/or oral steroids may be needed for short course of treatment. Lastly, allergy shots (SCIT) or even sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) under your tongue can be customizable based on your individual allergy skin test results. Allergy skin testing is done on the arm surface on both arms at Jacksoneye and can be scheduled and most likely covered by your insurance plan.
“Dry Eye” is really part of what is more known as Ocular Surface Disease (OSD). OSD can come in many varieties – dehydration, evaporation, autoimmune, and/or allergy. Modern day objective tests all performed at Jacksoneye can quantitate the disease in terms of type and severity and can even aid Dr. Jackson in measuring the response to therapy initiated. Modern day treatment options are highly specific to the condition diagnosed and may require more than one treatment to gain control of the problem. Unfortunately, dry eye is not as simple as “Baseball, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet” but with proper diagnosis and treatment, it can be controlled to a level that will restore normal functional levels to a person’s daily life.