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Eye Allergies

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Dealing With Eye Allergies: How to Find Relief From Your Symptoms

For many people, the coming of spring and summer also mean the coming of seasonal allergies. It can make the warm weather bittersweet, as seasonal allergy symptoms make people miserable despite the beautiful weather outside.

In Canada, it is estimated that as many as 10 million people suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can have larger implications if left unchecked (albeit, rarely).

Every spring we receive an influx of patients complaining of seasonal allergy symptoms looking for relief. In Southern Ontario, the dominant allergen is ragweed. In May/June, hay fever is prevalent. From August through October, ragweed is king.

Seasonal Eye Allergy Symptoms

If you experience the symptoms below, you may have seasonal eye allergies.

  • Itchy eyes that continue to itch regardless of how much you scratch/rub them (pro-tip: don’t do that)
  • Watery eyes
  • Red or pink eyes, aka allergic conjunctivitis
  • Swollen eyelids

Testing for Allergies

While you can test for allergies anecdotally, the only surefire way to determine what you’re allergic to is through formalized testing. This testing is fast, covered by OHIP, and will tell you exactly what you’re allergic to.

However, in the absence of formalized testing, there are a few ways you can gauge the cause of your symptoms:

  • Does your family have a history of seasonal allergies? If one parent has it, there’s a 60% chance you do too; 66% if both parents have it.
  • Do you tend to experience the same symptoms around the same time every year, regardless of your health prior?
  • Do antihistamines relieve your symptoms?
  • Do symptoms, such as rapid-succession sneezing and watery eyes, appear without a fever or other cold-like symptoms?

If you answer yes to any of the questions above, seasonal allergies may be to blame.

Finding Relief From Seasonal Allergies

There are a number of options to relieve your symptoms. A great option is to come in to see us, where we will help you determine the cause of your allergies and then provide you options to treat your symptoms.

Treatments include:

  • Over the counter eye drops – Suitable for mild symptoms. If your symptoms aren’t responding to over the counter drops, visit us for some prescription strength options.
  • Antihistamines – These can be taken orally or via eye drops. You can find them over the counter. Again, visit us if you require something with a bit more “oomph”.
  • Mast cell stabilizers – These medications take time (usually, a few weeks) to show their benefits. They work by preventing the mast cells in your eye from releasing histamines.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – We may prescribe these to alleviate inflammation/swelling.
  • Corticosteroid eye drops – These are prescribed for severe symptoms that are not responding to other options. They can have complications, and thus are for short-term use only.
  • Immunotherapy – You are exposed to trace amounts of the allergen you react to via oral tablets or injectables.  This gradually builds an immunity.  Due to the precise nature of this treatment, you need to know what you are allergic to first.

Visit Us in Scarborough

We are open six days per week, Monday through Saturday. If you are experiencing eye allergy symptoms that you cannot find relief from, please book an appointment as we would be happy to help.

Written by Vision Care Centre

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