therapeutic optometrist

Eyes getting itchy? Ocular allergies are likely to blame.

The days are becoming longer and temperatures are on the rise: Spring is here! However the change of season brings with it a bothersome common eye condition: allergic eye disease.

Allergies affect about 30% of New Zealanders at some point in our lives. Seasonal allergies occurs when our body’s immune system over-reacts to certain things (allergens) in the environment such as dust mites, pets, pollen and mould spores. These allergens cause skin rashes, hay-fever, asthma and eye irritation.

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Allergens cause a chemical called histamine to be released into the eye tissues that causes swelling, redness, wateriness and itching. The insatiable need to itch the eyes is very typical for allergy sufferers. Unfortunately itching will make symptoms worse as this releases more histamine. Itching and rubbing the eyes can also lead to permanent eye damage, especially in children, so this should be actively discouraged.

If you have symptoms of eye itching, redness, swelling or wateriness you should visit our therapeutic optometrist Mr Alex Petty to ensure this is not caused by other conditions like dry eye syndrome, infectious conjunctivitis or anterior blepharitis.

Management options for allergic eye disease include avoiding the offending allergen with wrap-around sunglasses, bathing the eye tissues with cool compresses, using non-preserved lubricant eye drops to wash out the eye, and using prescription anti-histamine/mast-cell stabiliser eye drops. You should only use eye drops that are recommended by your optometrist because over-the-counter allergy drops may not be as effective and some can lead to rebound redness when they are ceased.

If you think you are suffering from eye allergies contact the team at Bay Eye Care to ensure you manage this condition properly.