Seasonal allergies may lead to suboptimal myopia control. Consider allergy treatment options and helpful home practices. Consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice.
Spring has arrived, and my son is eager to head outside and enjoy the sunshine. As he slips on his shoes and grabs his sunglasses, I can't help but feel a hint of worry. You see, my son uses orthokeratology (Ortho-K) contact lenses to manage his myopia overnight. But with the arrival of seasonal allergies, I'm left wondering how his allergy might impact his eye health. In this article, I'll be sharing the considerations when treating spring allergies, so let's jump right in.
Myopia control treatment and seasonal allergies
As a parent of a child with myopia, like me, you might also be concerned about how seasonal allergies could affect the different myopia control treatments. Let's take a look at the following treatment options and how they may be impacted:
Myopia control soft contact lens: Wearing contact lenses can worsen the irritation or dryness caused by seasonal allergies. However, daily disposable contact lenses, such as MiSight, provide the advantage of a fresh, clean lens every day, reducing the accumulation of allergens.
Additionally, many allergy eye drops can be safely used with daily contact lenses, but it is important to carefully read the label and consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate usage instructions. If your child is experiencing eye irritation due to allergies, you may want to consider switching to glasses as it may help alleviate the worsening of symptoms.
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): The impact of seasonal allergies on Ortho-K treatment depends on how effectively allergens are kept out of the house and the severity of the allergy symptoms due to daytime exposure. It is advisable for your child to take a shower and wash off any pollen after getting home, as well as ensure that the lenses are thoroughly cleaned after wearing.
Fortunately, parents can keep an eye on their children when wearing Ortho-K lenses and promptly remove them in case of any allergy-related discomfort. If your child experiences eye irritation due to allergies, it may be necessary to temporarily discontinue Ortho-K wear for a night or two and manage the allergy symptoms.
In my experience, when my son suffers from allergy symptoms, wearing Ortho-K lenses becomes challenging due to persistent eye itching, dry eyes, and heightened lens awareness. In such cases, I temporarily halt Ortho-K treatment for the night and rely on atropine to manage his myopia, while also addressing his allergy.
Myopia control glasses: If your child has frequent and serious seasonal eye allergies, myopia control glasses, like MyioSmart or Stellest, may be the preferred option. These glasses can help correct their vision, reduce myopia progression, and don't trap allergens in eyes like contact lenses.
Treatments considerations for seasonal allergies and myopia
There are various over-the-counter medications available that can effectively alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies. However, depending on the type of myopia control treatment your child is using, certain allergy treatments should be avoided. The treatment options for seasonal allergies include:
Artificial tears: Seasonal allergies can cause dry eyes, leading to discomfort and irritation. Using artificial tears can help keep the eyes moist and wash out irritants. It is recommended to opt for non-gel or ointment types of artificial tears, which are usually marketed as long-lasting or providing extended relief. Using preservative-free artificial tears is also advisable to prevent dry eyes. Healthcare professionals suggest using artificial tears frequently, sometimes every two hours, to prevent antigens from sticking to contact lenses.
Nasal sprays: Steroid nasal sprays are an effective option for reducing nasal passage swelling and irritation that causes congestion. Pediatric formulations of fluticasone propionate, fluticasone furoate, and triamcinolone are available. However, unlike antihistamines, these sprays do not provide immediate relief. You need to use them consistently over several days or up to two weeks before symptom relief kicks in. However, it is worth noting that some of the nasal sprays may not be suitable because they may cause drowsiness, such as azelastine.
Allergy-specific eye drops: These eye drops are a type of medicine that can help with allergy symptoms affecting the eyes. They can prevent the body from overreacting to allergens and provide fast relief. These eye drops usually contain antihistamines like pheniramine or naphazoline, which can stop histamines from causing allergies. Other allergy eye drops have mast-cell stabilizers that can prevent the body from reacting to allergens. These eye drops may increase the likelihood of eye dryness; your doctor may recommend them along with preservative-free artificial tears.
Oral antihistamines: Oral antihistamines come in pill or liquid form and can help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. However, it's important to note that these drugs can sometimes make dry eye symptoms worse by decreasing tear production. Furthermore, some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine or Benadryl, may not be suitable for children because they can cause sleepiness.
Practices to help manage seasonal allergies
Here are some measures that you can take to help manage your child's seasonal allergy and alleviate their discomfort:
Check the pollen level: Before planning any outdoor activities with your child, be sure to check the forecast for pollen levels in your area. On high-pollen days, it's best to limit your child's time outside or choose indoor activities instead. When you do go outside, try to schedule activities when the pollen level is at its lowest, such as in the evening or after rainfall.
Keep the pollens out: First and foremost, it's important to check your window seals to ensure that they aren't letting in drafts and pollens. During high-pollen seasons, it's best to keep your windows closed and cool your home with fans or air conditioning instead. This can help reduce your child's exposure to pollens and prevent their allergies from flaring up.
Remove antigens: Regularly and frequently cleaning of your home is essential in reducing your child's exposure to allergens. Make sure to clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces with a damp cloth or a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This can help remove pollen particles and other allergens from your home and reduce your child's exposure to them.
Keep indoor air clean: Encouraging good hygiene habits is also crucial in managing your child's allergy symptoms. When your child comes inside from playing outdoors, have them change their clothes and wash off as soon as possible. This can help limit the amount of pollen they bring into the house and reduce their exposure to allergens. Encourage other family members to do the same.
Try nasal irrigation: Nasal irrigation with a squeeze bottle is a useful technique in flushing pollens from your child's nose and relieving congestion. You can use a saline solution or a solution specifically designed for nasal irrigation. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use only distilled or sterile water to avoid infection.
Wear a mask: A mask covering the nose and mouth can significantly reduce the amount of pollen entering the respiratory system, making it an effective way to reduce your child's exposure to allergens, particularly during high-pollen days. However, it's important to note that masks may not provide relief for eye irritation caused by allergens and increases the likelihood of dry eyes.
Talk to a doctor: If your child's allergy symptoms persist, it's best to seek medical attention. Consulting a physician can help identify the cause of your child's allergies and provide an appropriate treatment plan. Other more prescription-only and more effective treatment options are available that can help alleviate their symptoms.
It's understandable to have concerns about how seasonal allergies may impact your child's myopia control treatment. But don't worry. You can manage their allergies with proper precautions and considerations while minimizing any interruption to their myopia control. And don't forget to discuss you're your healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate management plan for your child.
Let's enjoy the spring season, and all it offers while taking necessary precautions to keep our children's vision in check.
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