By: Dr. Amber Teten, Pediatric Eye Doctor
Springtime is a beautiful season that brings about new growth and renewal. Perhaps one of the last things on your mind during this time of season is the pediatric eye doctor. However, for many individuals, it also marks the beginning of a challenging period of seasonal allergies, from which your pediatric eye doctor may be able to help. These allergies can cause various symptoms, including sneezing, congestion, and itchy eyes. Eye care is critical during this time, as allergies can significantly impact our eyes’ health and function. Throughout this discussion, Dr. Teten, a pediatric eye doctor, will take a closer look at allergies and their impact on eye health and how to manage allergy symptoms to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable.
What are allergies?
As a pediatric eye doctor, Dr. Teten has many cases of allergies that can affect a child’s eye health. Allergies are a common problem that can cause inflammation, itching, redness, and eye swelling. They can be triggered by various factors such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, or certain foods.
When a child has an allergic reaction, their immune system overreacts to the allergen, releasing histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause blood vessels in the eyes to dilate, making the eyes appear red and watery. In some cases, the eyelids may also become swollen, making it difficult for the child to open their eyes.
How do allergies affect the eyes?
When a child has an allergic reaction, their immune system releases histamine and other chemicals, which can cause inflammation and swelling in the eyes. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including itching, redness, watering, and sensitivity to light.
One of the most common eye conditions associated with allergies is allergic conjunctivitis, caused by an allergic reaction in the conjunctiva, a thin layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelids. Allergic conjunctivitis can be acute or chronic and may occur in one or both eyes. Symptoms may include itching, redness, swelling, and a watery discharge. In addition to allergic conjunctivitis, allergies can exacerbate other eye conditions such as dry eye syndrome, blepharitis, and even corneal ulcers.
Dry eye syndrome caused by allergies is a common condition that can occur when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. Allergies can cause inflammation and irritation of the eyes, leading to decreased tear production and quality. Symptoms of dry eye syndrome caused by allergies may include redness, burning, itching, and a gritty eye sensation. It is important for individuals experiencing these symptoms to seek medical attention from a pediatric eye doctor who can diagnose the underlying cause of their dry eye syndrome and provide treatment.
For further discussion on the eye condition of dry eyes, check out Dr. Teten’s pediatric eye doctor blog.
Blepharitis is a common condition that can be caused by allergies and is characterized by inflammation of the eyelids. Allergies can cause an overreaction of the immune system, accumulating bacteria and debris along the eyelid margins. This can cause redness, swelling, itching, and crusting of the eyelids. In addition, the meibomian glands that produce oils to lubricate the eyes may become clogged, leading to dry eyes and discomfort.
Corneal ulcers caused by allergies are a serious condition that can occur when the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye, becomes infected. Allergies can weaken the protective barrier of the cornea, making it more susceptible to injury and infection. Symptoms of corneal ulcers caused by allergies may include severe pain, redness, discharge, and blurry vision.
Parents need to be aware of the potential effects of allergies on their child’s eyes and seek medical attention from a pediatric eye doctor if they suspect an allergic reaction is causing their child’s symptoms.
How can allergies be managed to protect eye health?
There are several steps you can take to manage allergies and protect your eye health:
Avoid allergens: The best way to manage allergies is to avoid allergens as much as possible. This may include staying indoors during peak pollen times, using air filters and purifiers, and avoiding pets or other triggers.
Use eye drops: Over-the-counter eye drops, such as antihistamine eye drops or artificial tears, can help alleviate eye symptoms associated with allergies. However, you must consult your pediatric eye doctor before using any eye drops with your children. Some may have side effects or interact with other medications.
Take oral medications: Oral antihistamines and decongestants can help alleviate allergies, including eye symptoms. However, these medications can have side effects. They may interact with other medicines, so it is important to consult your doctor before taking them.
Maintaining good eye hygiene: Keeping your eyes clean and irritant-free can help alleviate allergy symptoms. This may include washing your face and hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, and using warm compresses to alleviate dry eye symptoms.
Consult with your pediatric eye doctor: If you experience persistent or severe eye symptoms associated with allergies, it is essential to consult with your eye doctor. They can provide a thorough eye exam and recommend treatment options tailored to your needs.
Allergies can significantly impact eye health, causing symptoms such as itching, redness, tearing, and dryness. However, by managing allergies and protecting your eyes, you can alleviate symptoms and maintain good eye health. If you experience persistent or severe eye symptoms associated with allergies, consult your pediatric eye doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your child’s needs.
If you have a child experiencing any of these symptoms associated with allergies and eye care. Have your child evaluated by a qualified pediatric eye doctor. Dr. Teten encourages parents to bring their children in for regular eye exams to ensure their eyes are healthy and their vision is properly developing. Call the Navigation Eye Care team at 757-529-6889 or schedule an appointment online. We are fully equipped and prepared to care for you and your family.