Medical Monday: Eye problems caused by allergies

    6:08 AM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - With Spring comes pollen, and with pollen comes allergies, which often includes itchy, watery eyes. 

    That's a normal reaction to minor irritation, but how can you be sure it's not a sign of something more serious? 

    Dr. Lydia Lane with Little Rock Eye Clinic stopped by 'THV 11 This Morning' to highlight the differences between a seasonal nuisance and threats to our sight.

    Seasonal allergies 
    We're in prime time for airborne pollen and will be for several more weeks.  When a person who's allergic to pollen comes in contact with it, their body generates histamines.  That's what triggers the itchy, red and watery eyes common to this time of year-and it's usually not severe enough to require medical attention.  Over-the-counter remedies like antihistamines, eye drops and decongestants work well to manage seasonal allergy symptoms. 

    Contact allergies 
    These can potentially be more serious; many people are allergic to certain products-cosmetics, medications or some detergents-which can cause an allergic reaction.  While a lot of the symptoms caused by contact with an allergen can be eliminated by avoidance or cleansing after contact, if the eye doesn't improve after a short time you should call your eye care professional.

    Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) 
    Pink Eye is a group of diseases that irritate the lining of the eyelid and the white of the eye; it causes the blood vessels in the white to become inflamed and makes them visible, giving the eye a pink color.  Pink eye can be bacterial, viral, allergic or environmental in origin.  This condition affects millions of people at any given time.  You should see your eye care professional if you have pink eye, because some forms can worsen and cause vision loss.

    Infections of the cornea 
    If a foreign object penetrates the cornea's tissue, or if bacteria from a contaminated contact lens goes into the cornea, it can cause a corneal infection called keratitis.  Keratitis reduces visual clarity, makes the eye water and can damage the coronea.  It's also the most serious complication associated with wearing contact lenses, and it takes prompt and comprehensive professional care to treat.

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