Flowers are blooming and spring is in the air! As pollen spreads, people afflicted by seasonal allergies begin to suffer. Allergens can cause redness, swelling, itching and watery eyes due to histamine. Although histamine is a normal component of the body, when released, it causes an inflammatory response.
Seniors are not exempt from bothersome allergy symptoms and often have complicating factors such as chronic diseases, making it difficult to manage and treat. Avoid planning outdoor activities when outdoor allergens are particularly high. If you must go outside, remember to wear sunglasses to avoid eye irritation.
For immediate relief, topical medications are effective, if the only symptom you are having is in the eyes. For mild symptoms, preservative-free artificial tears can help to wash away the allergens. Cool compresses can reduce the immune response.
If the tears and compresses aren’t working well enough, there are some over-the counter medications that may combine antihistamine with a vasoconstrictor. While they may work well short term, they have a higher chance of a rebound effect causing more redness.
Prescription options like mild steroids work well, but typically are not first line therapy due to side effects like intraocular pressure increase and cataracts.
What typically works best is an antihistamine with a mast cell stabilizer. The antihistamine will give fast-acting relief and the mast cell stabilizer will last longer, preventing the release of histamine. The dosage required is typically less too, as low as one drop a day, which helps with compliance.
The downside for seniors, unfortunately, is that antihistamines may lead to dangerous interactions with other commonly prescribed medications. See your optometrist to discuss allergy treatment options that are right for you
Our team at Iris Eyecare would be pleased to assist you with booking an eye exam. Please visit our IRIS portal listing here on GoWestShore for all of our contact information.