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Easy on the Eyes: Keep Them Clean, Clear and Comfortable
On April 12, 2010 @ 3:19 pm In All Articles,Allergy Basics
When 10-year-old Andye came to play with my daughter Alanna, I would always limit their time in the basement – not just because that’s where the TV was, but also because Andye was allergic to our cats. These calico beauties scattered their dander throughout the house, but I knew it collected heavily in the carpeted, windowless room downstairs.
Andye’s mom knew to pretreat her with an antihistamine, but even though her breathing seemed to be okay at our house (she does not have asthma), she always left with drippy, red, itchy eyes.
I thought I knew a lot about allergies, having worked at Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics for years, but I didn’t know one important thing:
“Oral antihistamines don’t work well on eye allergies,” says William Berger, MD, MBA, author of Allergies & Asthma for Dummies and long-time AAT medical editor. “A topical medicine applied directly to the eye works much better. Plus, oral antihistamines can increase irritation by drying out the eyes.
Turning a Blind Eye
Andye’s biggest allergy problem happens to be with cats, but any allergens that swirl through the air can get into your eyes and set off an allergic reaction if you are sensitive to them. For many people at this time of year, it’s pollen.
“About half the people I treat for nasal allergies also have eye allergies – but they don’t always think about it,” Dr. Berger continues. “Quite often I’ll get a new patient who describes respiratory symptoms in detail, but I have to specifically ask about eye problems before they include them.”
So if antihistamines aren’t the answer, what is? We tried to keep Andye’s eyes clear by limiting her exposure to the cats (try explaining that to a 10-year-old animal lover!) but most environmental allergens like pollen and mold are difficult to avoid. Staying in an air-conditioned building 24-7 just isn’t the lifestyle most of us enjoy.
Dr. Berger offers some tips for keeping eyes clear, clean and comfortable:
By Laurie Ross, Managing Editor, Allergy & Asthma Today
Medical Review by William Berger, MD and Peyton Eggleston, MD
Article printed from Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics: http://www.aanma.org
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 OcuFresh: http://www.ocufresh.com
 Allergy & Asthma Today: http://www.aanma.org/publication/aat-subscription
 News for Your Nose: Nasal Corticosteroids: http://www.aanma.org/2009/03/news-for-your-nose-nasal-corticosteroids/
 Clean Energy Series, Part 2: On the Wind and a Prairie: http://www.aanma.org/2009/10/clean-energy-on-the/
 Ask the Allergist: Can you help me with my pollen allergy?: http://www.aanma.org/2012/04/ask-the-allergist-can-you-help-me-with-my-pollen-allergy/
 Sunshine on My Shoulder: Part III of AAT’s Clean Energy Series: http://www.aanma.org/2009/12/sunshine-on-my-shoulder-part-iii-of-aat%e2%80%99s-clean-energy-series/
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