Procedure

Eye Allergy Diagnosis And Treatment- Allergy/Immunology

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What is eye allergy?

Eye allergies (also known as allergic conjunctivitis) cause itchy eyes which become red in color with tears and burning sensation.

Various allergens such as irritants (perfumes, diesel exhaust, cigarette smoke), outdoor allergens (pollens from grass and trees), indoor allergens (mold, dust mites, pet dander) etc. can cause eye allergies.

Opthalmologists i.e. doctors who have specalized in treating eye disorders should be consulted in case you have eye allergy.

Diagnosis:

In order to diagnose eye allergy, a slit-microscope is used to examine the symptoms of eye allergies (for example, swollen blood vessels on the surface of the eye). Doctor would also ask questions regarding patient’s medical history as well as family history of allergies. If it is not clear whether the patient has eye allergy or not, the doctor might also test for a specific type of white blood cell in patient’s eye. This is done by carefully scrapping a tiny area of the conjunctiva and then testing it for the specific white blood cells. The conjunctiva is the inner lining of the eyelid.

Treatment:

In order to treat eye allergies, patient should avoid or limit contact with the substance causing the allergies. An allergy test would help to decide which substances to avoid.

  • Avoid allergens: If eye allergy is due to specific allergen, patient should avoid any contact with those allergens. For example, if the patient is allergic to pollen, he/she should avoid going outdoors as much as possible when pollen counts are maximum. Patient should use sunglasses or eyeglasses to prevent pollen entering into eyes. If patient is allergic to dust, patient should try to keep dust mites away from the skin. Patient should wash bedding regularly and use allergen-reducing covers for the bedding. If eye allergies are due to pet dander, try to keep pets outside of the house as much as possible.
  • Eye drops:
    • Artificial tear drops help to wash allergens from the eye and provide temporarily relief. They add moisture into the eyes and hence also help to relieve dry and irritate eyes.
    • Decongestant: They help to reduce redness in the eyes. They are available with and without antihistamines. The drops with an antihistamine help to relieve itchiness.
    • Antihistamine/mast-cell stabilizers: Eye drops with both an antihistamine and a mast-cell stabilizer are beneficial to get relief from itchiness and prevent eye allergies.
    • Corticosteroids: Steroid eye drops are beneficial for the treatment of chronic and severe eye allergy symptoms such as itching, swelling and redness.
  • Immunotherapy shots: In the case of severe eye allergies, when none of the eye drops work, immunotherapy (allergy shots) might be an option. Patient is given shots comprising tiny amounts of the allergen. The dosage slowly rises over time to help the body become immune to the allergens.

References:

  • https://acaai.org/allergies/types/eye-allergy
  • https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/allergies-diagnosis
About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.

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