On the surface, eyecare providers may not fully appreciate the prevalence and complexity of ocular allergy and its clinical management; we learn that it is a relatively simple disease defined by ocular itch.
As technology leaps forward with medicine, it is prudent at times to appreciate how far we have come in managing and treating allergic eye disease. In fact, let us look back to the beginning in ancient Rome with the first recorded case of atopy. One of these authors, Suetonius, wrote with great detail in his biographical text De vita Caeserum about the distinctive lives of the first Roman emperors.
As optometry’s scope of practice has increased, optometrists have embraced allergic eye disease. Ocular allergies have multiple effects to patients in our practice. But, if allergies are unidentified because symptoms may not be present during office visits, patients may treat themselves.
Ideally, an ocular allergy medication should provide clinically significant improvements of the annoying or even incapacitating ocular itch with minimal dosing. While this is a desirable goal, it leads to challenges of the amount of dosing to achieve this objective and patient compliance with such dosing.
What would be the response if I told you that prescribing an allergy medication outright was a bandage or knee-jerk approach? Now, before everyone comes after me with pitchforks, hear me out.
The advent of spring yields the annual pilgrimage of patients into our offices complaining of the itchy, watery eyes of allergy. As any eyecare practitioner can attest, ocular allergy is one of the most common presentations to an eyecare practice.