Eye allergies are a common condition that affects up to 50 million Americans, causing redness, tearing and many other symptoms that can impair a patient’s vision and affect their overall quality of life.
Patients with eye allergies often experience:
- Red, itchy eyes
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
These symptoms are caused by triggers in the air, such as pollen, mold, dust or pet dander; or by certain foods or medications, which can cause a different type of allergy. These triggers affect the conjunctiva, the clear layer of skin over the eyes that is similar to the area of skin on the inside surface of the nose, another common source of allergy symptoms.
Treating eye allergies can most effectively be done by avoid the specific triggers that cause your symptoms. If avoidance is not possible, patients can apply cold compresses to the eyes or use artificial tears or over-the-counter medication to relieve symptoms. Prescription eye drops or oral medications may also be recommended to relieve symptoms of eye allergies.
Bullous keratopathy is an eye disorder that involves an inflammation of the cornea. This swelling is caused by a problem with the endothelium, which is the inner portion of the cornea, that results in a dysfunction of its pumping system. It may be due to the development of glaucoma, trauma to the area or as a complication of eye surgery. Common symptoms of bullous keratopathy include excessive tearing, light sensitivity and a decrease in visual acuity. In some cases, it may be quite painful.
Bullous keratopathy will typically be treated initially with conservative measures such as eye drops or contact lenses. In many cases, however, those treatments can only provide temporary relief. When bullous keratopathy requires surgery, a corneal transplant is often the most effective way to correct the condition. The newest forms of transplantation remove and replace only the damaged layers of the cornea, preserving more natural eye tissue and speeding recovery.
Corneal dystrophies describe a number of eye conditions in which abnormal material builds up on the cornea. When these substances accumulate too greatly, light cannot be focused properly, which affects images being processed by the brain. Most corneal dystrophies are inherited and involve both eyes. Some patients experience no symptoms at all, while others face extensive vision loss, pain, light sensitivity or a scratchy feeling as if a particle is in the eye.
There are more than 20 different types of corneal dystrophies. Some of the most common ones are Fuchs’ dystrophy, keratoconus and lattice dystrophy. The majority of corneal dystrophies progress slowly, starting in one layer of the cornea and sometimes advancing to other layers over time.
Treatment of corneal dystrophies will depend on the condition diagnosed and the severity of its symptoms. In many cases, conservative measures will be initially used, such as wearing special contact lenses that can protect the cornea. For some patients with corneal dystrophies, a corneal transplant may eventually become necessary to restore vision.
Eye infections can occur when you have been exposed to a virus or bacterium. Different types of infections strike particular portions of the eye. Both eyes or only one may become infected. Common symptoms of an eye infection are red or itchy eyes, pain, discharge, inflammation in the eye area and vision difficulties.
Two of the most typical forms of eye infections include conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye, and styes. Conjunctivitis is an infection of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball. It produces inflammation that affects the blood vessels and gives the eye a pink or red appearance. Styes are small red bumps that develop along the eyelid as a result of an infection. They may cause pain, swelling and tearing of the eye.
Treatment for an eye infection will vary depending on its cause. Some may go away on their own, while others will require the use of warm compresses, over-the-counter medications or antibiotic eye drops. Patients should avoid wearing makeup or contact lenses until after the infection is gone.
Keratitis (Viral Inflammation)
Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea that often develops as the result of an infection, but can also be caused by a small scratch or prolonged contact lens wear. Patients with keratitis may experience redness, eye pain, excess tears, blurred vision and sensitivity to light, depending on the cause and severity of the condition. It is important to see a doctor for a complete eye exam in order to detect any infections at the first sign of symptoms.
If left untreated, keratitis can lead to serious complications and can permanently affect vision. Treatment of keratitis depends on the cause, but may include antibacterial, antifungal or antiviral medications, patching or corneal transplant for severe cases. Your doctor will recommend a personalized treatment plan based on each patient’s individual condition.
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