Image from www.washington.edu

[Disclaimer: This post does not have sponsorship from the drug manufacturers mentioned below.]

You know allergy season is just around the corner when you see pretty pink cherry blossoms blooming on the trees or daffodils lining the sidewalks. Wait a minute, the first day of spring is this week! I love spring time but just like most of you, I suffer from seasonal allergies. When I was a kid, I remembered asking my doctor, “What am I allergic to?” He looked down at me and said, “Everything.” By everything, he meant all types of pollen, molds, and dust.

From then on, sneezing randomly became a normal habit for me every spring. It was not until four years ago when I moved to Seattle from Los Angeles that I experienced the classic symptoms I learned in optometry school: itchy, watery, red eyes!!! I knew not to rub my eyes but the nasal canthus or inner corner of my eyes felt like a bug was holding a feather and tickling me incessantly. So as a doctor myself, I knew itchiness was the main symptom of allergic conjunctivitis.

With my diagnosis confirmed, I gave myself the following remedy:

1. I went straight to the freezer and took an ice cube to apply right on the nasal canthus of my eye. The cool compress decreased the need to rub my eyes while I searched for my allergy bottle.

[The mechanical action of rubbing your eyes can rupture the mast cells that have been destabilized by the allergens. Once you break up the mast cells, they release more histamines to make your eye or eyes MORE ITCHY!! Yes, don’t be surprised that allergies can happen on one eye only even though it’s often times both eyes.]

2. Once I found my Lastacaft, I squeezed one drop into each eye and kept them closed for a few seconds to make sure the drug targeted all those histamines. Now if you don’t have time to see an optometrist or a family doctor to get Lastacaft prescribed, then go to your local drugstore and get yourself Bausch & Lomb Alaway or Novartis Zaditor to use twice a day.

3. Last season, my eyes got so itchy and irritated that the allergy drops did not even work. By this time, the inner white part of my eye was red and watery. Red meant inflammation and I had to resort to a mild steroid to put out the fire. So if your eyes ever get to that point even with using the recommended over-the-counter drops, you should go in for a medical visit to get a potent prescription.

In the meantime, I suggest you start watching the pollen count on the news.  If it is high, start taking your non-drowsy oral anti-histamine and put an allergy drop in each eye before you hit the outdoors. By following these instructions, you can still enjoy the beautiful spring flowers everywhere.

-Julia Tran, O.D.