For all those who are at home amidst the Lockdown and working from home over the virtual work space, itching and burning of eyes are becoming a big problem. This is an unfortunate reality in spite of the fact that pollution levels are at an all-time low. Further, availability and accessibility of specialist eye care is a problem as the entire healthcare machinery is engaged in tackling the COVID-19 problem.
Eye itching is most commonly due to allergy. It can appear as the increased urge to rub one’s eyes along with increased redness of eyes. It may be associated with running nose, headaches, etc. Individuals with a history of asthma, wheeze may also witness an increase in these symptoms. Children are common victims of allergies. It is often seasonal or chronic and is called Spring Catarrh. Children keep rubbing their eyes during acute episodes. It is often associated with red eyes, watering and may affect the child’s ability to study or concentrate in school. Also, frequent eye rubbing can lead to severe vision-threatening complications like Keratoconus.
Allergy testing can help identify factors that trigger allergic episodes in individuals. These include food items, household items, animal hair, etc. Identifying and avoiding these factors often help in reducing the occurrence of allergic episodes. While at home, the severity of eye allergy can be reduced by applying cold compresses or ice packs for 3-5 minutes over closed eyelids. This often gives relief from itching. Cold compresses can be applied multiple times a day. Other specific treatments for allergy include antihistamines, steroids, etc which should be used only under medical supervision. The use of artificial tears is also recommended as it gives a lot of relief to itchy eyes. In mild cases, eye allergy responds well to eye drops. However, in moderate to severe cases and those with exacerbation of asthma, etc oral medications may also be needed.