Do you suffer from Eye Allergies?

Is springtime a difficult time for your eyes?  You are not alone! The defense mechanisms put up by the body to protect eyes are quite striking. It includes the eyelids, eyelashes and the conjunctiva, which covers the eyeball. In spite of all this defense mechanism of the body, eyes continue to be one of the most sensitive organs in the human body and are always open to the attack of airborne allergens.

Tears continuously keep the eyes clean but are ineffective when dealing with allergens. An allergy occurs due to the immune response of the body to a foreign particle. Most of the time an allergy is caused by the overreaction of the body. In the eyes, the allergic reaction occurs to the conjunctiva - a transparent membrane covering the eyeball and the under surface of the eyelid. Dust, mold, pet dander and tree pollen are some of the most common allergens. If you are allergic to a particular substance, and when your eyes come into contact with the substance, it will kick start an allergic reaction.

It is estimated that more 50 million Americans suffer from various type of allergies. In it, majority of the people suffer from eye allergies. People with allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis or strong family history of allergy are more prone to have eye allergies.

An allergic reaction to the conjunctiva is popularly known as allergic conjunctivitis or 'pink eye.' It varies from soft irritation of the eyes to severe itching, which leads to corneal scaring. Direct contact with the allergen is the main cause of eye allergies. The contact can happen through air, hands and from materials used to rub the eyes.

Pollens, spores, pet dander, hair, dust, grass, mold, weeds, certain plants, nail polish, certain medicines and secretions like saliva are some of the most common allergens. The conjunctiva when comes into contact with an allergen produces a chemical called histamine, which causes the symptoms associated with eye allergies.

Cigarette smoke, wind, perfumes, air pollution, diesel exhaust also creates irritation to the conjunctiva but this is not included in eye allergies.

Itching is the most important symptom of eye allergy. Redness, watery discharge, swelling of the eyeball, tearing, burning sensation, pain while opening eyelids after sleep, blurred vision, pus formation and the feeling of an alien body in the eye are some of the common symptoms. People wearing contact lens will have discomfort in wearing it. Eye allergies mostly affect both the eyes.

Dry eye and tear duct obstruction are sometimes confused as eye allergies. These two types of ailments have similar symptoms to eye allergies. Conjunctivitis can also be caused by bacteria and viruses.

There are many treatments, but few over-the-counter medications are strong enough to help with more aggresive allergies.  Zaditor is the best over-the-counter relief, but many prescription medications such as Pataday and Alrex work better for most allergies.

Eye allergies rarely cause vision impairment. Itching is the most vital symptom of allergic eyes. Although most of the eye allergies are not dangerous, persistent eye allergies should be treated and it is wise to administer drugs only after consulting Dr. Wimbish or Lollar for their advice.

Why I became an eye doctor

I want to thank each of you for your support of our Facebook page, and of course, for choosing us to meet all your eye care needs. Hopefully, this can be a forum where you can keep in touch with what is new at Allen Eye Associates. We hope to inform you on the latest in glasses and contacts, relay what medical advancement in our industry might be relevant to you, and let you know what is going on here.

I am often asked why I decided to become an eye doctor. Since this is my first posting let me share with you why I chose this profession. I will start with my upbringing, because I actually realized at a young age I wanted to be in a medical field. I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas.( As a side note, if you have never visited Fort Worth, consider taking a day trip to the Stockyards and then to the downtown area. I took my family over there for the day and also made a stop by the Fort Worth Zoo.)  I have an older twin brother( by 7 minutes), and a sister who is three years younger. Growing up I had a strong interest in math and science. Since my parents were both in the medical profession I knew at a young age this was a path I would most likely take.

I went to Texas A&M University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science. To this day, I am a huge Aggie fan. It is good to see the football program back to winning. If you wear any Texas apparel to your eye exam you will most likely leave seeing worse that when you came in. (Just kidding J).  It was at Aggieland that an academic advisor pointed me in the direction of optometry. I considered medical school, dentistry, podiatry, and vietenary medicine. But after working with some optometrist, I knew it was the profession for me. It combines the passion I have for helping people and medicine.

At the time of graduation, there was only one optometry school in Texas, the University of Houston.  It is a four year curriculum, and I am proud to be an alum from such a wonderful program. One of my internships was located in Plano, and that is when I really started thinking about going into private practice. I liked the challenges involved with owning my own business, and this would give me the flexibility to practice optometry with the principles that I feel that are important. Building trust with my patients is my greatest priority, and I absolutely want to provide the highest quality eye care. To me this means investing in the technology and equipment that allows me to prescribe clear vision and preserve your eye health.

We our in our 11th year of serving this community, and I have to say it has been my patients and the people I work with that have made this so fun for me. I look forward to this year and appreciate the opportunity to we have to help you see this world more clearly!

"See" you soon,

John Wimbish, O.D.