Photo credit: Luis Galves @louiscesar

Allergic conjunctivitis, or eye allergies, happen when the eyes react to something that irritates them. When the eyes try to defend your body from an allergen it triggers the release of histamine from mast cells. As a result, your eyes (usually the eyelids and conjunctiva) become red, swollen, watery, and itchy. You may also wake up in the morning with puffy eyes. People who have eye allergies commonly have nasal allergies as well which causes stuffy nose and sneezing. Both conditions are closely related to seasonal allergies.

What are symptoms of eye allergies?

The most common eye allergy symptoms include:

  • Itching and watery discharge (teary eyes)
  • Redness and puffy eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light

If it’s related to seasonal allergies then both eyes are usually involved. Unlike pink eyes, eye allergies do not spread from person to person.

What causes eye allergies?

Some of the common allergens include:

  • Household dust
  • pollen from trees and grass
  • pet dander
  • mold
  • Smoke
  • Chemical scents such as detergents or perfume

Allergic reactions to perfume, cosmetics or drugs can also cause the eyes to have an allergic response. Some people may have an acute allergic reaction to a new facial product or an eye drop.

Sometimes, the eyes can react to other allergens that don’t necessarily come in direct contact with the eye. These can include specific foods or insect bites or stings.

Most allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with oral or over the counter antihistamine medication, anti-allergy eye drops, or steroid eye drops.

However, not all red and itchy eyes are caused by allergic conjunctivitis. Some people may think they have an eye allergy but in fact they have dry eyes or other types of inflammations. It is important for you to visit your eye care provider to get the proper diagnosis and treatment for your problem.

This January, our clinic welcomed the New Year with a brand new “toy” — MYAH from Topcon, making us at Eyelab one of the first optometry clinic in Vancouver to measure and chart eye axial length. You may be wondering…what is so great about axial length measurements? Why do we care about how long the eyeball is?

As the eye increases in length, not only does our lens prescription increase, there’s a greater risk of ocular diseases (e.g. glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration). In fact, rapid progression of myopia in children is due to excessive elongation of the eye. Therefore, to monitor the effectiveness of myopia management treatments, axial length measurements are charted at each follow up visit, which serve as the standard of care for our myopia management program. For Ortho-k lens patients, axial length is one the primary measure used to evaluate myopia progression.

MYAH can help us advance our myopia management care in further ways as well as diagnosis and management of dry eye disease.

Dry Eye Assessment

Noninvasive tear break-up time (NIBUT) measurement

At Eyelab, we can evaluate the stability of your tear film by accurately measuring the tear break-up time non-invasively. Typically, tear break-up time is around 10 seconds — with shorter tear break-up time, especially below 5 seconds being indicative of dry eye disease.

Meibomian gland imaging

The meibomian glands are oil glands that are embedded in our eyelids which produce the lipid layer of the tear film and are expressed when we blink. Imaging glands allows doctors to analyze their shape and structure. Healthy glands will appear long and continuous in the image, assisting the production of oil in the eye for lubrication. Contrastingly, unhealthy glands will appear much shorter due to degradation and inspissated, thus producing oil of a “toothpaste” consistency, or be entirely clogged and unable to secrete oil.

Contact Lens Fitting

MYAH Topcon also allows our doctors to simulate fluorescent imaging to observe the Ortho-K and RGP contact lens fit. This noninvasive method is efficient and accurate at evaluating whether the lens will sit comfortably around the eye and provide effective treatment.

After learning about the cool features of the new machine at our clinic, are you curious to try out one of its services for yourself? Don’t hesitate – book an appointment with us today!