Itchy and Red Eyes
Eyes On Norbeck: Dr. Chun AuYeung
- Have you recently:
- started to rub your eyes (especially with your knuckles)?
- noticed your contact lenses are more blurry, cloudy, and/or dry?
- experienced constant eye redness?
- If you are, then you may be experiencing ocular allergies. It is time to take control of the situation and not let it disrupt your quality of life! Before we dive into how to grab ocular allergies by the leash, let’s understand those 3 questions above.
Rubbing your eyes (especially with your knuckles)
The site of intense itchiness is located in the inner part of the eye called the caruncle (see pic). The allergens ( i.e. pollen) irritates the caruncle and causing it to be inflammed and swollen. In addition, both the allergens and inflammatory “stuff” the eyes produces to fight the allergen accumulates in the caruncle area leading to become the epicenter of itchiness. Thus, we use our knuckles and rub in a circular motion.
Contact Lenses are blurrier, cloudier, and dryer than usual
Ever noticed cars covered in yellow-white pollen during the allergy season? It is also being deposited onto the contact lenses are you are enjoying the weather outside. The contact lens is soft and (hopefully) moist, so it is a sponge soaking up all the allergens in the air! Now once was a clear comfortable window of clear vision, now it is smothered with pollen affecting your vision AND a Petri dish of irritants (see above about rubbing again). It can also lead to contact lens drying up because it is preventing the lens to retain moisture due to irritants disrupting the surface.
This is easy one. Allergens are irritants. Soaps are irritants. Soap gets in your eyes. They get irritated and red. Get allergens in your eyes. They get irritated and red. Of course there’s more to it, but this is the main point you should take home.
Now you know what’s going on. Let’s put the leash on ocular allergies.
Many of the new patients I encounter use regular lubricants and/or redness relief drops to help with the itchy and red eyes. Some work pretty well. But when asked how often do they use it, the reply is generally “I use it 4-6 times a day”. This is inefficient. We all have things to do and digging around for the bottle multiple times a day isn’t our main goal in life.
There are eye drops that you ONLY use once a day. Again, ONCE A DAY and not have to worry about it. These once a day allergy eye drops are prescription-only so you do have to seek a doctor for it (like me). However, there are over-the-counter allergy drops that were once prescription only, but those are dosed two times a day and they may do the trick.
If you are currently wearing extended wear contact lenses (2-weeks, Monthlies), you should definitely consider daily contact lenses. You know how the feeling is when putting on a fresh pair of contact lenses? Well, you get that EVERY single day. You don’t get the build up of pollen and other deposits on the lenses because you get a fresh pair tomorrow. It’s like not washing your pollen-covered car for a month, the pollen just builds up more and more. I know they are more expensive, but in the long run they are cheaper because you don’t have to buy cleaning solutions all the time (those are expensive). Also, can you really put a price tag on the health of your eyes let alone the quality of life?
Just those two simple changes can dramatically improve your experience with ocular allergies.
Now you have the “weaponry” to battle eye allergies. But with any battle, it requires a strategic execution. This would be TIMING. If you know your ocular allergies flare up in Spring, start these changes BEFORE Spring. For example, if April is the month where ocular allergies began, start using the allergy drops and daily contact lenses in March. Reason being, you are building up your defense system against the allergens before it attacks. In other words, you are preventing (or lessen) the problem versus fixing the problem.
A good word to describe how to control ocular allergies is : ONE.
ONE eye drop a day. ONE set of contact lenses a day. Start ONE month before.
If you have any questions or comments, contact us here or leave a comment. I know no one really leaves any comments questions probably because they never get a reply. At Eyes On Norbeck, we are different and I, Dr. AuYeung, will personally respond to you.