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EYE ALLERGIES | Long Island Eye Doctor

Joel Kestenbaum, OD

It’s Allergy Season.  Do you know where your tissues are?

Every year, I stock up on over-the-counter allergy eye drops and pre-write prescriptions for allergy medications in anticipation of the droves of patients reporting to me with eye allergy symptoms.  These symptoms include itchy, red and watery eyes, a gritty feeling and reduced contact lens tolerance.  These symptoms are caused by airborne allergens including pollen, mold, dust and pet dander.

The best way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergens that cause them.  But, given the reality that life brings, we all know that this is nearly impossible.  So we have to find alternative methods to treat the symptoms that allergies bring.

Sunglasses help to prevent pollen from blowing into your eyes especially on windy days.  Staying indoors on bad allergy days is a choice for some.  For others, contact lenses usually become difficult to wear during allergy season.  But certain types of contact lenses approved by the FDA for people with allergies can also help to reduce symptoms.  If possible, one way to reduce allergy related eye symptoms is to wear disposable contact lenses that are replaced daily.  Since 1990, I have been recommending daily disposables and truly believe that this is the healthiest contact lenses type to wear.  Think about it.  You always have a fresh lens, you never put a less than perfectly clean lens in your eyes, you don’t have to clean them, you cannot be sensitive to cleaning solutions, and they are very convenient.

Here in New York, around mid to late March, I start prescribing allergy eye medications in an attempt to reduce patient symptoms of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.  These prescription medications include Pataday, Patanol, Elestat, and Optivar.  These are usually used daily but some doctors recommend them for as-needed symptomatic relief.  Consult your doctor for the proper way to use these medications.

In addition to prescription medications that are stronger, I sometimes recommend over-the-counter allergy eye drops to provide temporary relief of allergic conjunctivitis symptoms.  Use for extended periods of time may make redness in the eye worse; therefore these drops should be used with caution and with your doctors recommendation.

Fortunately for most people, seasonal allergies usually last only about 6 weeks. Whether you use sunglasses, OTC eye drops, prescription medications, One-Day Contact Lenses or move to the North Pole, preventing symptoms is the true goal.


Dr. Joel Kestenbaum


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