Allergy & The Eyes

Allergic conjunctivitis is a common condition. Your eyes become red and very itchy but generally your sight is good.

You may notice a runny nose or feel a bit run down if you have a more severe allergy. The eyes then get better, and the condition then returns every now and again. 'Itchy red eyes' occurring now and again, particularly if you suffer from hey fever or other allergies, is the main symptom. If the allergy occurs during the hay fever season, then it is related to hay fever, and termed 'seasonal allergic conjunctivitis'. But if it occurs all the year round you are probably allergic to dust, and termed 'perennial'. Alternatively you may be allergic to cat fur, for instance. Pollution in the air seems to be increasing allergy rates considerably.

The first thing to do is to avoid the thing that causing the allergy. So if its hay fever then wrap around sunglasses can keep the pollen away from your eyes. Bedding should be of a type to keep dust mites at bay and dust in the home needs to be minimized.

If these simple measures are not helpful then Dr Harle can advise on some simple eye medications. Opticrom eye drops are safe for long term use and can be very helpful. They stop the 'allergy cells' on the surface of your eye, the mast cells, releasing chemicals that make your eyes irritable. This is often the first drop to try, but if is it is not effective then Nedocromil (Rapitil) and Lodoxamide are more modern and quicker acting forms of Opticrom and may be useful. 

The next stage are antihistamine drops such as Livostin. Other similar drops include Optilast and Emadine and Ketotifen. Ketotifen may be more effective and may be used in addition to Opticrom.

Opatanol is a mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine, and can be very effective. It is proving very popular and it is now often the first choice to treat patients when the opticrom related drugs have not helped enough.

Finally antihistamine tablets can be very helpful, but there are many others. They may make you too tired but are generally safe, and they help your runny nose and the fever part of hay fever. With hay fever it is best to start the treatment early before the condition gets hold, as this way it is easier to control. There are many types of anithistamine tablets and some make more people tired than others. Since these are not eye care products its best to ask your doctor and pharmacist for advice about tablets.


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