My Constant Eye Problems
One of the worst things about having allergies and being allergic to nearly everything in the environment is dealing with my constant eye problems. They get worse in the summer months due to the high pollen counts and generally warm sticky weather. And because I have atopic dermatitis, I regularly scratch my eyes. This makes me more susceptible to bacterial infections.
In 2014 I had a nasty viral infection
In 2014 I contracted an unbelievably bad viral infection. I ended up in A&E. My left eye had become so inflamed. If you have ever seen the film Rocky, where Sylvester Stallone is babbling incoherently for his wife Adrian at the end of his victorious fight, he has a swollen eye that looks like a giant balloon on the side of his face. That was what I looked like, minus the incoherent babbling!
I can remember the pain being unbearable. I will forever be indebted to the NHS for jumping on this straight away. The medical staff was excellent!
After they put this weird yellow dye in my eye, they discovered that the infection was not bacterial but viral. The emergency doctor prescribed me a viral ointment for my eye, and all was good in a week or so.
Then, after conducting some tests, I was informed that I was actually allergic to Chloramphenicol, the antibiotic eye drop I used to treat my eyes. Because of my constant scratching, I constantly get eye infections. So, in this case, I incorrectly presumed the infection was conjunctivitis. What's annoying about all this is that it's not uncommon that I contract conjunctivitis, so it's an exhausting battle to figure out what is happening with my eyes.
The eye-related symptoms I typically experience
Today, for example, and it seems to be every morning, I stumbled out of bed, unable to open my eyes properly due to the gloopy substance that had congealed under my eyelids. This happens every day.
I have always had atopic dermatitis around my eyes, so I am well used to dealing with eye problems. However, when the pandemic began, I noticed that my allergies and eczema went into overdrive. I suspect it might have been due to a reaction to the vaccines I received, but I cannot be 100% sure. I have not been able to get my eyes back to how they were pre-pandemic, which is really depressing.
Getting diagnosed with allergic conjunctivitis
After seeing my Optometrist for this daily eye issue, I was diagnosed with allergic conjunctivitis. In this case, I try to manage it as best as possible. In my day job as a driving instructor, I frequently have to meet new people. If I am not looking well, I feel quite low. I don't ask for much in life, just a regular-looking face! To ease the symptoms of my allergic conjunctivitis, I typically use the antihistamine loratadine.
How I prevent and manage eye-related symptoms
If I am not proactive in preventing worsening eye symptoms, my eye health will quickly spiral out of control, which can affect my facial eczema. My advice to anyone going through the same things as me is to try and prevent the infection from happening.
When you can, wash your hands regularly to prevent bacteria and germs from entering your eyes if you are scratching them. Keep your hair clean and free from pollen and other allergens. This can reduce the risk of allergens entering your eyes. Washing your face in the morning or night can also prevent eye infections.
Do you carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) with you?