• 14 Weizmann st., 17th floor, Unit 1701, Tel Aviv
  • Phone: 03-5476685

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For an appointment please call: 03-5476685
14 Weizmann st., 17th floor,
Unit 1701,
Tel Aviv

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Eye allergy

Eye allergy or allergic conjunctivitis

Eye allergy is a common problem that affects about 20% of the population. Teary itchy eyes, with redness and swelling is the common presentation. There are several types of eye allergy, some of them may compromise the vision. In addition to the direct aesthetic effects resulting from allergy (swelling, redness), the skin around the eyes may become darker as a result of the chronic allergy. About 60% of people who suffer from allergic rhinitis ("hay fever", nasal allergy, or allergic rhinitis) also suffer from eye allergies.

Eye allergy can be seasonal or perennial (all the year), depending on the allergic triggers and exposure to them. Allergic triggers are environmental factors such as the pollen of trees, grasses and weeds, animals and house dust mites. However, certain materials that come into close contact with the eyes, such as those of contact lenses, rubber particles from latex gloves, cosmetic materials can sometimes cause eye allergy.

Treatment of eye allergy starts with the elimination of exposure to the allergy triggers, if possible. In many cases when the eye allergy if a relatively mild symptom in the constellation of nasal allergy, it can be treated with oral antihistamine drugs and nasal spray corticosteroids. Antihistamine drugs will provide rapid relief in terms of eye allergy and there is a high likelihood that once the corticosteroid spray stops the symptoms of nasal allergy, the eye allergy will remain under control even after stopping the antihistamine drugs. When eye allergy symptoms are more intense, antihistamine eye drops may be used. These eye drops (in example Optilast) may be used as needed. If allergy symptoms are very intense and significant, corticosteroid drops may be used. Corticosteroid drops are very effective but cannot be used for a long period due to the risk of developing glaucoma (intraocular pressure rise) or cataracts (a problem in vision secondary to corneal transparency loss). Antihistamine drugs (tablets) are a legitimate response to eye allergy symptoms, in order to induce remission. Even corticosteroid tablets may be used to induce a rapid remission, but for short periods only due to adverse effects.

When significant eye allergy is present and no remission can be reached and sustained by the aforementioned approach, and provided that the allergy culprit has been identified and a vaccine is available for it, "vaccines" (immunotherapy) can be offered. It is important to note that for this treatment it is necessary to visit the doctor weekly for a period ranging from 3-5 months, and then monthly for another 3-5 years. Side effects may occur during vaccine treatment, such as swelling at the injection site (the arm), itching, and even widespread symptoms like itchy rashes and rarely shortness of breath like in asthma exacerbations. Vaccine treatment, which is needed for some patients, implies heavy logistics for the patient and there is a risk of adverse responses.

It is always important to identify common complications of allergy in the eyes: People with eye allergies tend to develop eye infections: in these cases the infection usually begins in one eye, the secretions are purulent. An ophthalmologist's (eye doctor) examination can reveal additional signs of infection. In the case of contact lenses use, during eye allergy flare, even if we think it is not related to contact lenses, contact lenses use should be avoided until further notice by an eye doctor, and this in order to prevent permanent eye damage. Regarding eye allergies, the cooperation between the eye doctor and the allergist is very important.

In summary, eye allergy as a single disease or in the context of another allergic disease, is a common problem that affects our quality of life but can be successfully treated.