Q: What are the common symptoms of allergies?
Dr. Smiley: Allergy symptoms typically affect the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, and face causing a runny nose, sinus congestion, and sneezing.
Q: How do allergies directly affect the eyes?
Dr. Smiley: Typically, common ocular allergy symptoms are itching, watering, mucous discharge, and swelling around the eyelids.
Q: What is meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
Dr. Smiley: Allergic conjunctivitis is a term used to diagnose an allergic reaction including the mucous membranes and surrounding ocular tissue. Allergic conjunctivitis has present with red or “pink” eye but unlike most conjunctivitis, allergic is not contagious.
Q: What is the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies? How would I know the difference?
Dr. Smiley: Seasonal allergies affect patients for a few months out of the year. Typically, patients with seasonal allergies are affected in Spring or Fall or sometimes both. The most common seasonal allergies are ragweed and hay-fever. Perennial allergies affect patients year-round, regardless of the season. These patients typically take an oral antihistamine in order to relieve the symptoms of their allergies. The most common perennial allergies are to dust, mold, and pet dander.
Q: Can allergies do permanent damage to my eyes?
Dr. Smiley: Severe ocular allergies can cause permanent damage to the eyes such as scarring of the cornea or eyelid tissue. We recommend that patients consult their Optometrist with any symptoms such as redness, irritation, itching, or pain in and around the eyes.
Q: What are the treatment options available for allergies affecting the eyes?
Dr. Smiley: Ocular allergies are treated with topical antihistamine eye drops and cool compresses to relieve swelling and redness. In some cases, an oral antihistamine is added as well.