Your nose is running, your eyes are itchy and dry and you are sneezing your head off.
Time to visit the allergist, right? Actually, you may want to visit an optometrist.
Why? First you need to understand how your eyes operate normally and how they operate when you are having allergies.
Your eyes produce two kinds of tears.
Basal tears lubricate your eyes every time you blink.
Reflex tears are released in response to irritation in your eye and are the tears you shed when you cry.
During an allergic reaction, you produce too many of the reflex tears, washing away the basal tears that lubricate your eyes.
That is how your eyes end up raw and irritated even though you feel like they are watery.
For these symptoms, an allergist can prescribe a general antihistamine to combat your allergies.
These drugs often come with side effects such as drowsiness and dry mouth, and they don’t exclusively address the symptoms of the eyes.
Dr. Rick Graebe, an optometrist at Family Eye Care Associates in Versailles, treats many patients this time of year at his Allergy Clinic.
He offers a number of options when it comes to treating the eyes of allergy sufferers.
“We can customize allergy treatments because we have five or six options to treat a patient’s symptoms,” he said.
One tool Dr. Graebe has at his disposal is a microscope that can magnify the eye 50 times.
This allows him to determine whether the basal tear gland is clogged.
If so, he can prescribe a safe, gentle eyelash shampoo that cleans the lashes of allergens and clears up the tear duct.
The microscope also lets Dr. Graebe view the clear layer over the whites of the eye to look for allergic conjunctivitis.
“This layer can swell to 10 times the normal thickness so that every time you blink your eye is irritated,” he said.
Instead of a general anithistamine, Dr. Graebe can prescribe an eye drop antihistamine that goes right to the root of the problem with few or no side effects.
Graebe himself uses these eye drops.
“I rarely need over-the-counter allergy medications. When I have dry eyes, I use the drops,” he said.
“People live in Kentucky love living here.
“We help them enjoy the beauty of our state during allergy season without the symptoms of allergies.”