Eye health

eye allergies woman using eye drops

Let’s talk about one of the most common issues we see with our patients: eye allergies!  We want to provide some quick and easy info to those of you trying to figure out if you do have allergies or if it’s ‘something else’.

Usually, if you have an eye allergy = itch

Without itching, it’s probably something else causing your discomfort. So, what else? It could be dryness. Dryness could come from not enough watery tears (artificial tears help), not enough oily tears, or too much tear evaporation.  But when you mix dryness and allergy, it equals bad news for the patient.

An Allergen = the molecule (pollen, etc.) that gets into our eyes and sinuses and eventually makes us itch, water, and sneeze.

Allergy Treatments

So, what works best for eye allergies?

Our doctors would recommend topical or oral antihistamines.  These work to prevent  the “itch molecules” from working. Once you’re already itching, it’s hard to tear the molecules away from their chemical landing spots.

As far as your options:

Benadryl and Zyrtec are the most drowsy, Xyzal is slightly less, Allegra and Claritin are truly non-drowsy medications for most people.  If you like to take them in the morning, Dr. Bennett Walton recommends Allegra.  If you like to take them at night, consider Xyzal or Zyrtec (the 24 hour meds).

WARNING: when taking a NEW antihistamine, DO NOT DRIVE while you are on it, until you know how it affects you. Everyone is so different!

Allergy Shots

Our doctors also recommend targeted allergy shots with an allergy specialist.  They can be weekly for approximately 30 weeks, then twice a month, then monthly for up to 3 years. They can be considered a longer time investment, but can give a decade of reliable relief.

How do allergy shots work?  Our immune systems see grass or tree pollen (or whatever you’re allergic to) and attacks it with a molecule called IgE (immunoglobulin E).  This then triggers itching and redness.  Allergy shots give our bodies some of the pollen (or whatever the allergen is) and allow our body to retrain our response to attack it with IgG, which does NOT cause the same itchy, sneezy response.

Are there risks to allergy shots?  Yes, some risk of anaphylaxis, so most allergists will have you get an epi-pen or similar type of epinephrine pack.  Thankfully, these risks are low for most common allergens.

Other Treatments

If you’re only allergic to 1 or 2 allergens, you can do oral lozenges instead of allergy shots.  But if you’re allergic to more things, you are better off with the allergy shots.

The common allergens like tree and grass pollens have among the lowest anaphylaxis risk.  Bees, wasps, and other insect allergies have a higher allergy risk.  Cat allergies are somewhere in the middle.

For more information, please find a reputable allergy specialist near you, and if your eye allergies are getting the best of you, feel free to call our office at 713-626-5544 or inquire online info@visiontexas.com to schedule an appointment with one of our eye specialists who can take a look and recommend the best course of treatment for you through all of the seasons here in Texas!