FEATURE — Spring is in the air; birds are singing, flowers are blooming and the trees are budding with color through blossoms and leaves. For people who suffer from allergies, spring can also mean sinus pressure, stuffy noses, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.
There is a seasonality to most allergies, said Ryan Robison, an optometrist at SouthWest Vision.
“It’s not unusual that we will have more presentation of allergy cases around the springtime with things coming out in bloom,” the doctor said. “We will also have another surge in the fall.”
Patients with eye allergies will experience itching, watering, redness and some puffiness. If the sinuses become flared, a patient may also experience a sharp pain or heavy pressure directly behind the eye.
While allergy causes vary from patient to patient, Robison said, the No. 1 factor across the board is pollens in the air.
Other allergens that can affect the eye include dust, pet dander, indoor air quality, makeup and feathered pillows. Patients who are new to an area can also experience allergies as they adjust to a new environment.
In general, Robison said, patients who experience regular seasonal allergies may be able to find relief with a simple over-the-counter allergy medication. He also offered a few home maintenance recommendations that can help alleviate symptoms. Those include:
- Wiping down fan blades in the home often.
- Switch out home air filters often.
- Keeping the indoor quality good and dust free.
- Wash hands after interacting with animals or handling money and shellfish.
Often, patients don’t realize that the symptoms they are having are caused by allergies, Robison said. If a person doesn’t know what is causing the symptoms or has been unable to find relief for their eyes, they should visit an eye doctor.
Likewise, patients who have symptoms that are only in the eye or whose eyes are bothering them the most should see an eye care professional.
When looking at the eye, doctors at SouthWest Vision will help a patient determine what the cause of the allergy is or if there is any infection that requires more aggressive treatment.
“Eyes have certain presentation that tell us whether it’s an allergy or not,” Robison said.
Eyes that are red and swelling can mean a number of things – these symptoms can be signs allergies or something more sinister like a stye or pink eye. If the eye has a discharge that is white, ropey and/or stringy it is usually telling of an allergy.
After a proper diagnosis, an eye doctor can then recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of the allergy. Treatment can range from over-the-counter medications and/or eye drops, to a prescription eye drop with a steroid. Other treatments can include cold compresses, pain relievers like Tylenol or ibuprofen and the use of a neti pot to relieve sinus pressure behind the eye.
In many cases a patient requires a combination of treatments over several days to get relief, Robison said. He always recommends a patient be consistent and persistent to get relief from symptoms.
Though medication can be helpful in finding relief from allergy symptoms, chronic use of an oral medication or allergy drop can cause dry eye, another discomfort, so it is important allergy sufferers consult with their eye doctor to help manage it.
Patients who take a corticosteroid, whether it is a nasal spray, inhaler, joint injection or oral medication containing a corticosteroid, have a higher risk of an increase in eye pressure increase that could lead to glaucoma. People taking these medications for allergies or other reasons chronically should see an eye doctor regularly.
The goal of doctors at SouthWest Vision always when treating allergies, Robison said, is to keep the eyes as comfortable as possible without doing damage elsewhere.
About SouthWest Vision
SouthWest Vision is a premier eye and vision care provider that has been bringing quality eye care to Southern Utah for 20 years. SouthWest Vision has won Best of State in both eye care and optical care several times. Its doctors are the most-awarded doctors in Southern Utah, Robison said.
The clinic sees both scheduled patients and eye emergencies. The SouthWest Vision team is dedicated to uncompromising medical eye care applying the latest science and technology to every eye assessment. At Southwest Vision the doctors and staff believe that early detection of eye disease is key to preventing devastating loss of vision later in life.
The dedicated team of SouthWest Vision doctors and staff want their patients to experience world-class optical care and have confidence in their vision. To find more information or to schedule an appointment, visit SouthWest Vision’s website.
Written by HOLLIE REINA, St. George News.
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