Allergies are common, affecting 1 in 4 people at some point in their lives. Often, a symptom of an allergen, our eyes are on the battlefront with itchy, red, swollen, gritty and dry just a few words used for how eyes feel when allergies hit.
Sources of allergies affect people in different ways, but symptoms centre around sneezing, coughing, rashes, blocked noses, headaches, and itchy red eyes, as well as being responsible for provoking respiratory illnesses such as asthma and skin conditions such as eczema.
The most common allergies involve pollen, dust mites, animal dander (flecks of skin shed by pets), mould, household chemicals and certain foods. In this latest e-news, community pharmacist Sultan Dajani, from Golden Eye®– behind the range of pharmacy recommended drops and ointments to treat conjunctivitis, styes and blepharitis – www.goldeneyecare.co.uk – takes a look at how our bodies and eyes react to allergies and why Golden Eye® is the eye health hack essential.
How does the body react?
When we encounter an allergen, either from inhaling, swallowing or simply by the skin coming into contact with it, the body goes into fighting mode and the immune system overreacts to the substance.
A protein known as IgE is produced to go after the allergen, and a chemical called histamine released into the blood – and it is this that creates the symptoms commonly experienced.
So, in fact when we have these types of symptoms the body is functioning and doing its job to get rid of the allergen.
Though we need our body to react in this way, the symptoms themselves can really affect our general wellbeing, lowering our immune system and interrupting everyday activities.
We need to know what self-care tools we can employ to manage these symptoms at home.
Allergies & Eyes Problems
Eyes are very sensitive, and people will notice that when fighting an allergen, they become watery, itchy, swollen and red. The temptation here is to keep touching or rubbing the eye to provide relief but that can create more problems for the eye.
If we touch our eyes, we leave them open to the possibilities of further eye problems or infections such as styes, conjunctivitis or blepharitis.
Our hands come into contact with most things, from people to surfaces, making it easy to transfer bacteria and germs to our faces – and if we are reaching for our eyes, it’s easy for a simple rubbing of the eyes to develop into something else.
A small swollen lump on the eyelid, a stye is a bacterial infection of either an eyelash follicle or a gland near the eyelashes.
People tend to get more styes during allergy season. Allergies are known risk factors for styes. With the experience of itchy eye symptoms it can feel impossible not to rub them.
According to one study, styes accounted for 4% of more than 11 million emergency department attendances for eye conditions across all age groups.
Conjunctivitis is often an infection caused by a virus or bacteria, though it may also be caused by an allergy.
Sometimes known as pinkeye, the meaning of conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the membrane (or thin skin) on the inside of the eyelid. It happens when the blood vessels of the sclera (the white of the eye) become dilated, giving us that red-eyed appearance.
Blepharitis is a common eye condition, estimated to account for around 5% of eye-health-related GP visits. This condition causes inflammation of the eyelids. This can either be anterior blepharitis, inflammation at the base of the eyelid and can be caused by bacteria like staphylococci, or seborrhoeic dermatitis, or posterior blepharitis, an inflammation of the meibomian glands, which help to produce tears.
Eye complaints, such as conjunctivitis, blepharitis and styes can be uncomfortable, unsightly, and painful, so I can understand the distress that some of my patients can go through. Thankfully, on the other hand, they are also very common and easily treatable, so it doesn’t have to be such a pain. A formulation containing propamidine isetionate is advisable to seek as it is a disinfectant and also has antifungal properties.
Golden Eye®,which contains propamidine isetionate is a pharmacy-only brand for eyes, which is available without prescription and has several different products to help get your eyes feeling healthy again. Propamidine works by stopping bacteria from growing and multiplying, which controls the numbers of bacteria causing an infection.Propamidine is considered to be the first-line alternative to topical antibiotic treatments and some GPs have a preference for propamidine isetionate.
Article written by Sultan Dajani, Community Pharmacist and adviser to Golden Eye