Ocular Allergy and Pets
Typically ocular allergies present with signs of swelling and redness of the conjunctiva or white part of the eye along with itching. After my years of practice I have noticed a slightly different presentation in people who I believe have become allergic to their pet(s). Many say they have not had allergies in the past. I had a yellow lab and became allergic to him when he was 10 years old and I was 44 years old. I had no other allergies. If I petted him and touched my eye, the eye would instantly “blow up” – become very red and itch like crazy!
The interesting fact about these folks who develop an allergy to their pet is that they don’t really have much itching at all! Perhaps the receptors that initiate the itching are just worn out. These folks are miserable with a sticky or “full” feeling of the eyes or report that their eyes are always tired. The over the counter anti-allergy drops don’t seem to work well for them at all. They do get relief when a prescription drop is used, however, such as Lotemax or Durezol. The drawback there is that they are expensive and you really should not use them forever since they are corticosteroid drugs. The swelling of the white part of the eye is typically so great that folds form and flop on top of their lower lids which then allows their tears to flow right out of the eye and onto their cheeks so they also complain of watering eyes.
I checked with a local allergy specialist and he did say that de-sensitization shots ARE available and I believe that would be the best long term treatment rather than months of corticosteroid use. They don’t like the idea of getting rid of their pet and then laundering their bedding and shampooing all the rugs in the house!