If you find yourself experiencing itchy eyes, you are not alone. Many patients experience ocular allergies, which cause itching of the eyes and eyelids. In Austin, there is no shortage of allergens—from cedar to oak to pet dander, there is a reason Austin is referred to as allergy capital of the world, not just the capital of TX.
An allergic reaction occurs when the autoimmune system overreacts to a harmless substance, also known as an allergen. The immune system is what helps fight off infections and disease. Unfortunately, when the immune system overreacts to an allergen, this leads to an allergic reaction. During an ocular allergic reaction, itching, redness, and watering of the eyes may occur.
A telltale sign of an allergic reaction is that after scratching the irritated area, patients will feel better for a short time, only to later experience worsening of symptoms and the increased desire to itch the afflicted area. The reason patients experience itching is due to histamine. Histamine is a chemical compound released by the immune system during an allergic reaction. Histamine causes inflammation and itching. Histamine is useful in fighting off infections. Unfortunately, it is not so useful in the case of allergies, causing severe itching. The more patients itch, the more histamine is released—a vicious cycle.
Individuals who are prone to allergic reactions may become allergic to their contact lens material, or even the contact lens solution used to disinfect lenses. This can lead to a telltale sign of visible bumps underneath the eyelids. This condition is known as giant papillary conjunctivitis, or GPC. With GPC, refitting patients into daily disposable contacts, along with prescribing antihistamine eye drops and/or steroid eye drops can greatly improve symptoms.
At 512 Eye, we treat ocular allergies with prescription antihistamine drops, in addition to steroid eye drop for severe cases. Antihistamine eye drops work by blocking the histamine pathway. Steroids reduce inflammation. Systemic antihistamine medications such as Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec may also provide relief.
If you are experiencing itching of your eyes or eyelids, please give us a call at 512-596-5544 to set up an appointment.