Allergies may be affecting your vision

As we head into spring in Florida, you may notice a change in your vision as blooming flowers and sprouting plants fill the air with pollen. It may be more than your eyes can handle. While spring is typically the worst season for allergy sufferers, Florida's allergy season lasts 10 months, giving your eyes only a two-month break from irritants.

When something you are allergic to irritates your eyes, it is called allergic conjunctivitis or ocular allergy. The conjunctiva is a delicate membrane covering the eye and the inside of the eyelid. When your immune system senses an allergen, it produces antibodies or immunoglobulins that travel to cells causing the release of chemicals that results in an allergic reaction. This can include watery, itchiness, pain, redness, lid swelling, light sensitivity, grittiness, burning, fatigued or swollen eyes.

It is essential to consult your eye care professional when experiencing any symptoms, as allergy sufferers often confuse symptoms with those of dry eye syndrome.

While allergy sufferers may experience short-term vision blurriness, fortunately, eye allergies do not cause long-term damage. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when an allergen triggers the conjunctiva, which becomes inflamed. The allergens cause the mast cells in the eye to release histamine, causing blood vessels to dilate and mucous membranes to itch, causing eyelid inflammation.

About 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from allergies. It is crucial to ascertain whether allergens cause your discomfort because the same symptoms can also be caused by infections or severe allergies, which, when left untreated, can threaten eyesight or result in corneal ulcers.

To determine what is causing your symptoms, your eye care professional needs to identify the type of allergic condition you are experiencing, which is achieved by outlining your medical history and conducting an ocular examination often followed by the testing of tears.

Other possible causes are vernal keratoconjunctivitis found in adolescent boys and threaten vision; atopic keratoconjunctivitis, which can cause the development of corneal ulcers; contact lens-associated papillary conjunctivitis, a reaction to ill-fitting contact lenses which can result in the inability to unable to tolerate the lenses in your eyes; and contact ocular allergy or toxic keratoconjunctivitis, caused by a reaction to medications.

Treatment protocols run the gamut from eye drops to antihistamines to antibiotics depending on the cause. To determine whether allergies are causing your vision issues, schedule a consultation with your eye doctor at New Vision Eye Center at 772-257-8700.