Dr. Nandini Ray


Avoid allergens

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Avoid allergens

Temporary relief for eye irritation can leave you with long term side effects.

Eye irritation is often accompanied by redness of the eye. Redness of the eye can be sign of many conditions and diseases that our eyes may contract. The three major causes of red eyes are dry eyes, infections caused due to bacteria or virus, or allergies. There are at least a dozen different types of infections. Also, an allergy itself can be of various types of infections. Also, an allergy itself can be of various types like Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis, Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis, Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis, Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis , Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis, Irritative Connjuctivitis, and many others. But people often ignore redness and irritation. When discomfort increases people often use old prescriptions and self-medicate. Some people also use home remedies, over-the-counter eye drops or other medicines based on own assumptions or advice from other people. All this, in order to save the effort of consulting a doctor, which most often aggravates the problem rather than treating it. Because, unknown to them, old prescriptions may contain steroids or other medications that are simply not meant for the condition they're trying to treat. Use of steroids does provide immediate relief, but it's temporary in nature. All symptoms can reappear the moment steroids are discontinued. Extensive use of steroids without medical advice may lead to serious side effects including loss of vision.

What causes eye allergies?

Just like fever and skin rashes, eye allergies develop when the body's immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something that is ordinarily harmless. An allergic reaction can occur whenever that "something"- called an allergen- comes into contact with your eyes. The allergen causes certain cells in the eye (called must cells) to release chemicals that cause blood vessels in the eyes to swell, and the eyes to become itchy, red and watery.
Pollen, dust mites & molds, pet hair & dander and smoke are the most common allergens.

Why should one resort to steroids and when is it supposed to be used?

In the hands of a doctor, a steroid combined with the right drug treats eye allergies effectively. Steroids work by mimicking the action of the body's own hormones to help control inflammation.
Steroid anti-inflammatory eye drops are very effective, but they are reserved for severe symptoms or advanced stages as complementary therapy because a single anti-allergy drug may not be enough to provide quick relief.
However, doctors use them with lot of caution because of the potential side effects of the long term use of steroids. Side effects of steroids include elevated pressure in the eyes and cataracts. Increase in pressure in the eyes may lead to glaucoma which can result in damage of the optic (eye) nerve and loss of vision. In people with bleeding tendencies steroids can increase the bleeding risk.

Since there are significant long-term risks, their use should be strictly under advice and supervision of doctor. It is important to diagnose the cause of redness or irritation correctly before deciding the course of treatment. Do not self-medicate.

At the first sign of persistent redness or irritation in the eye consult your eye specialist.
Take care of your eyes.