Itchy, runny, red eyes are another common reason why patients seek help from Access Eye. While these eye irritations can have many potential causes, during allergy season allergic conditions affecting the eye are often the culprit — especially in this geographic area. It is important that the root cause of the problem be investigated early on.
What to Expect With Allergy Testing
We employ a very simple, quick, virtually painless skin scratch test (no needles are used) that evaluates for allergic reactions against many very common allergens in this region.
To begin the test, your arm will be cleaned to remove any germs or irritants. Then, we will press a device similar to a plastic hair comb into the skin of your arm. The device contains tiny amounts of the specific allergens for which you are being tested. The device makes small scratches on your arm to allow the allergens to get under your skin. This does not hurt. The spots that were scratched may be marked to help us identify those sites later.
You will be asked to wait in the office for 15 to 20 minutes and avoid touching or scratching your arm. Then, we will check your arm for reactions (e.g., redness, itching and swelling) in the areas where the allergens touched your skin. We will mark down which allergens produced a reaction. Once we have identified those allergens, we will apply a soothing cream to your skin to alleviate redness, swelling and itching.
Allergy Testing Results
The results not only help us manage the eye condition, they also can provide useful information for other health care professionals involved in your care.
The allergy testing results sometimes rule OUT allergies as a source of the symptoms, directing our search to different areas. Alternatively, if the results indicate you are allergic to only a few things, you can reduce your symptoms by avoiding them. If you experience multiple positive reactions to the allergy testing, you may be treated with systemic or local (eye drop) medications. We may advise you to consult with an allergist. A number of other recourses and treatments may also be applied.
Frequently Asked Questions About Allergy Testing
Is there anything I should do prior to allergy testing?
It is important that you avoid taking antihistamines for approximately five days prior to your allergy test. Antihistamines interfere with your allergic response and can throw off the results of your allergy test. Our team may give you a list of other medications to avoid in the days leading up to your test.
Is there anything I should do after allergy testing?
If you develop new swelling or bumps after your allergy tests, or your existing bumps get worse or do not disappear after two to three days, contact our office.
How much will allergy testing cost?
The amount you will pay for allergy testing depends on whether your health insurance offers coverage. Our office would be happy to answer your questions and provide our billing codes so you can check with your insurer about how much coverage they offer for allergy testing.
How long can eye allergies last?
It depends on what triggers the allergic reaction. Some allergies are seasonal (i.e., allergies to pollen from grasses or trees). Others last year-round (e.g., allergies to dust or pet dander).
Is an eye allergy curable?
Eye allergies cannot be cured, but allergy symptoms can be managed with medications and eyedrops. Another option is allergy shots to build up your body’s immunity to specific allergens.
Our team can review the available treatments with you during an in-person appointment. We can also discuss lifestyle changes to make to minimize or avoid exposure to allergy triggers.
Does rubbing your eyes damage them?
Rubbing your eyes too often or too hard is risky. It can irritate your eyes and make your allergies worse. It can also damage the tiny blood vessels of your eyes, aggravate conditions like glaucoma and possibly lead to problems such as keratoconus. Finally, rubbing your eyes can transmit germs that may cause an infection.
Can allergies only affect one eye?
Allergies usually affect both eyes. It is unusual for an allergen to get into one eye but not the other, though it can happen on rare occasion.