1. Hooray! Spring is here! Unfortunately, this means the dreaded Spring allergies are here as well.
With Spring here and all of the beautiful flowers that come with it, comes the promise of the dreaded Spring allergy season. Seasonal allergies are usually due to allergens that bind to mast cells in the eye, which then release histamine. The histamine causes most of the allergy symptoms. Allergic symptoms include itching, redness and tearing. Symptomatic relief can be obtained using antihistamine drops (Naphcon A, non steroidal anti- inflammatory drops (Acular) or steroid drops (Alrex). However, these deal solely with the symptoms, so they only offer temporary relief. To get to the root of the problem, we usually try to prescribe a mast cell stabilizer that prevents histamines from being released. Taken a week or two before the allergy season is in full swing, these drops can really make a difference between a truly annoying allergy season and one that is very tolerable. Combination drops like Patanol, Bepreve, Optivar, Elestat, Alaway or Zaditor all provide protection by acting as both an antihistamine and a mast cell stabilizer, together. Zaditor and Alaway are available over the counter, while the others require a prescription.
2. A Simple Way to Remember to Take Your Medication:
Remembering to take medication is not always easy, especially if you take more than one medication, and you take them several times a day. A patient shared something with me that can make the whole routine easier and, most importantly, can increase compliance for better results. If you have a smartphone or an iPad, you can download the App: RxMindMe.
3.Why do I need an annual eye exam?
This is a question I hear almost every day, which is typically followed by: “If I see so well, my eyes must be healthy.” Even with excellent vision, you may still have undiagnosed medical issues with your eyes. Many conditions affecting your eyes are painless, and can only be found through a thorough medical eye exam. One example of a painless eye disease is glaucoma, which if untreated can be vision threatening.
Most patients who had a laser vision correction procedure were originally myopic (nearsighted). People who are myopic may have an eye that is anatomically elongated. Unrelated to your previous laser vision correction procedure, eyes that are elongated have a higher chance of retinal problems such as retinal tears, holes and detachments. If you ever experience flashes, floaters or shadows over your vision, go to your ophthalmologist immediately. Even if you do not experience any of these symptoms or they are unchanging, yearly exams may reveal a small retinal tear that could easily be treated, which could prevent the more serious complication of a retinal detachment.
A recent retrospective study confirmed that myopic or previously myopic patients have a higher incidence of open angle glaucoma. This is a painless condition that is easily treated if diagnosed early. Years may pass with undiagnosed glaucoma before a patient notices any visual symptoms. At this point, significant, irreversible damage may have already occurred.
First, don’t panic! Most patients do not experience either of these conditions in their lifetimes. However, a simple, comprehensive eye exam is your best insurance against these conditions.
The eyes are really a window into your body. It is the only place where a doctor can actually visualize the tiniest blood vessels in your body, the arterioles and venules. This can reveal the first diagnosis of systemic medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
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