Spring is a beautiful time of year. The weather is warmer. Leaves are growing on the trees again, and flowers are blooming. Everything looks so fresh and lovely.
While this may sound amazing to you, if you’re an allergy sufferer, it probably sounds more like a nightmare. It’s hard to see all of the beauty through sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and headaches.
The good news is that there is something you can do about it. You can get relieve from your spring allergies, especially when they affect your eyes.
Allergies can make your eyes unbearable. They may itch, burn, look red, and water continuously. Some people’s eyes swell to the point of obstructing their vision making it difficult to work and drive a vehicle.
While the eyes’ reactions to allergies are only temporary, they are a nuisance and decrease the quality of life for sufferers. Understanding why the eyes react this way can get you on the path towards relief.
Eyes react to allergens because the body’s immune system believes there’s a threat. To protect the body, the immune system releases antibodies. It’s those antibodies that cause the eyes to release histamine and other substances. These substances cause the eyes to itch, turn red, and water.
The eyes can react to many different allergens. These allergens can be found throughout the year or seasonally.
Two types of allergies exist: seasonal and perennial. Seasonal allergies are a problem starting in early spring and all the way through autumn. The allergens responsible for eye irritation are pollen and mold from all of the humidity and rain that occurs during those seasons. Perennial allergies can happen year-round. These allergies are due to allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, etc.
Some people suffer from only one type of allergies, but others suffer from both types. Knowing what type you’re suffering from or if you’re suffering from both is the first step towards treating your eye discomfort.
The best way to treat eye allergies is to avoid the allergens causing them. While this may sound easy, it’s not as simple as many people imagine. With hundreds of allergens in our environment, knowing what to avoid becomes a challenge. This is why the best way to treat eye allergies is to first find out what you’re allergic to.
An experienced allergist can perform allergy tests. These tests will identify some of the most common allergens we know about today.
There are three types of tests for seasonal and perennial allergies.
The skin prick test is the simplest testing procedure for allergy testing. The skin is pricked a few times, and then a few drops of an allergen are placed on the skin. If there is a reaction (redness, swelling or itching), that means you’re allergic to it.
The intradermal test is similar to the prick test, but the allergens are injected under the skin using a syringe. The solution is much more diluted, but this test is much more accurate. It is usually given if all prick tests showed negative for allergens tested.
The RAST blood test involves having blood drawn. The lab will look for immunoglobulin (IgE) antibodies in your blood to identify allergies. While this is the safest spring allergy test out of all of them, it does take the longest to receive results. It also can’t test for as many allergens at one time, as the others can.
Positive allergy tests provide a doctor with the necessary information to create a treatment plan. The best form of treatment is to eliminate the allergens. For instance, if grass clippings are a problem, staying indoors while the lawn is mowed is the best course of action.
Unfortunately, not all allergens can be avoided. Antihistamines can reduce allergy symptoms, especially those affecting the eyes. An ophthalmologist can recommend the best ones to use.
Allergy shots are an option. These injections are given at regular intervals for three to five years. They are effective in eliminating or reducing allergy attacks. This type of treatment is called immunotherapy. A small amount of the allergen is given in the injection. Since it’s only a small amount, the body can overcome it. As the body receives increasing amounts of the allergen over time, the immune system will stop perceiving it as a threat, so it won’t release antibodies.
If you’re suffering from seasonal or perennial allergies that are affecting your eyes, contact experienced ophthalmologist James R. Kelly, MD. As a board-certified laser eye surgeon, he can help you along with your allergist to reduce eye allergy discomfort. Contact us today at Kelly Vision Center at 877-718-7818 or 516-830-4605.