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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Eye Allergies “Blooming” in South Florida

Posted: 06.21.2011

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recently ranked nine Florida locations, including Miami, as among the top 100 worst cities for allergy sufferers based on a 2011 study. With no defined “seasons,” South Florida’s allergy outbreaks vary according to what’s in bloom. Although many people associate allergies with sinus problems, allergies of the eye are also a related health issue. Richard M. Awdeh, M.D., of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has recently seen a significant increase in eye allergies and advises the public to protect their eyes from air-borne irritants to avoid developing conjunctivitis – an inflammation of the conjunctiva (membrane covering the white of the eye). “Through prevention, and taking quick action once symptoms develop, people can minimize their discomfort and prevent this condition from turning into a severe infection that could threaten their vision,” said Awdeh.

The most frequent airborne allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Grass
  • Dust
  • Weeds
  • Mold

Symptoms of eye allergies:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Swelling and puffiness of the eyelids
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Burning sensation
  • Watery eyes

Precautions/Treatments:

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes
  • Keep windows and doors closed to keep allergens out
  • Clean regularly to remove dust and mold
  • Use filters in air conditioners and routinely change them
  • Minimize carpeting that may retain dust mites
  • Remove contact lenses whenever an eye becomes red
  • Avoid sharing towels
  • Wash bed linens frequently
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Rinse face and hands after coming in from outdoors and shower/shampoo before bed
  • Rinse pollen out of your eyes using artificial tear drops
  • Visit your ophthalmologist for a prescription for anti-allergy medication. First line of therapy for this would be antihistamine mast-stabilizers
  • Apply cold compresses to affected eyes

Conjunctivitis can be viral, bacterial, or caused by an allergic reaction. Only an ophthalmologist can determine the specific kind a patient has and recommend the most effective treatment. A condition that could develop as a result of having severe conjunctivitis is keratitis, which causes the cornea (clear layer at the front of your eye) to become inflamed and swollen, causing pain and light sensitivity. Occasionally, ulcers (open sores) form on the cornea. If the ulcers scar the cornea, vision may be permanently damaged. Everyone is advised to see an ophthalmologist if they have any concerns about eye care, especially if only minimal relief is gained through the use of the above-mentioned steps to prevent or treat any form of an eye allergy. About Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has ranked the best eye hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the past seven consecutive years. Having earned an international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer is also ranked #1 in patient care and #1 in residency training by Ophthalmology Times. As the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States, more than 250,000 patients with nearly every ophthalmic condition are treated each year and more than 12,000 surgeries are performed annually. Founded in 1962, Bascom Palmer has patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation, Florida.