Q: How do allergies directly affect the eyes?
A: Chronic allergies may lead to permanent damage to the tissue of your eye and eyelids. If left untreated, it may even cause scarring of the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the inner eyelid that extends to the whites of the eyes. Ocular allergies can make contact lens wear almost impossible and is one of the many causes of contact lens drop-out. Most common allergy medications will tend to dry out the eyes, and relying on nasal sprays containing corticosteroids can increase the pressure inside your eyes, causing other complications such as glaucoma.
Q: I have seasonal allergies. How come my eyes are still itchy even after I take a Claritin pill?
A: You may need an anti-allergy eye drop to target the symptoms in the eye. Much of the time, oral anti-allergy medications are not that effective at treating the symptoms in the eye. In fact, oral anti-allergy medications can cause dry eyes which then worsen the symptoms due to allergies. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, either over-the-counter or prescription- strength eye drops can be prescribed to provide relief.
Q: What is meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
A: Allergic conjunctivitis is the clinical term of ocular inflammation of the lining or membrane of the eye, called the conjunctiva, caused by allergic reactions to substances. Although a patient may present with red or pink eyes from excess inflammation, the common term "pink eye"can signify a broad term of conditions and can be misleading, as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other irritating substances can cause redness resembling a "pink eye." Your eye doctor can differentiate between an allergy reaction and a true infection, which can lead to faster healing with proper treatments.
Q: What are the common symptoms of OCULAR allergies?
A: Excessive tearing, frequent eye rubbing, constant irritation especially in the corners of your eyes closest to the nose, lid swelling or puffy eyes, and red or pink eyes are some of the most common ocular allergy symptoms.
Q: What is the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies? How would I know the difference?
A: Simply put, seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is a more common and persistent form of ocular allergies that occurs during changes in season, which include outdoor weeds, grasses, and tree pollen. Whereas perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) is a more mild and chronic presentation that occurs year-round from common indoor allergens, such as animal dander, molds, fungus, and even dust mites.