Ocular Allergy Testing

Eduardo Besser, MD

Ophthalmologist & Eye Surgeon located in Culver City, CA

Approximately 20% of all children and adults have some form of ocular allergy or allergic conjunctivitis. Many patients just endure their symptoms, but there’s no need to suffer when ocular allergy testing can target their specific allergens. Dr. Eduardo Besser offers specialized eye allergy testing that doesn’t require needles and only takes a few minutes to perform. Then, he develops a customized treatment plan to relieve allergies. To learn more about ocular allergy testing, call Dr. Besser’s office in the heart of Culver City, California, or book an appointment online.

Ocular Allergy Testing Q & A

What are ocular allergies?

When patients have an eye allergy, their immune system overreacts to a substance in the environment and creates antibodies to identify the allergen. In future exposures to the allergen, the immune system releases chemical mediators, usually histamine. Histamine then triggers symptoms associated with allergic reactions.

What substances trigger ocular allergies?

Some of the most common allergens include:

  • Pollen from grass, trees, and weeds
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Cigarette smoke

What are the symptoms of ocular allergies?

Patients with ocular allergies experience one or more of the following:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Tearing
  • Discharge from the eye
  • A feeling that a foreign object is in the eye

What types of allergies affect the eyes?

There are three primary types of atopic ocular allergies:

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis

This is a seasonally recurring conjunctivitis that affects the peripheral cornea and most often develops in children and young adults.

Atopic keratoconjunctivitis

This type is more likely to occur in older patients with a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema. It may cause more extensive corneal and conjunctival scarring.

Hay fever conjunctivitis or seasonal allergic conjunctivitis

This common allergy produces a sudden ocular response to an airborne allergen. The reaction is often short-lived and episodic.

Can medications cause an allergic eye reaction?

Ocular allergies can also arise from reactions to certain medications:

IgE mediated

A response mediated by IgE antibodies produces a sudden hypersensitivity reaction that causes conjunctival swelling and intense itching. The most common drugs responsible for ocular allergies are penicillin, bacitracin, sulfacetamide, and anesthetics.

Toxic papillary reactions

These allergic reactions are common and cause chronic red eye. They may occur any time after a week of using certain medications, especially antibiotics and antiviral drops.

Allergic contact reactions

This type of ocular response develops more slowly in response to topical medications.

Some patients also develop ocular allergies in response to contact lenses or from proteins in the tears that bind to the surface of the lens. Symptoms include redness, itching, and discharge.

How are ocular allergies diagnosed?

Dr. Besser uses the Doctor’s Rx Allergy Formula diagnostic test kit to identify the allergens causing each patient’s eye irritation. This kit differentiates among ocular allergies, dry eyes, and blepharitis, which is important because they share similar symptoms.

The test kit is customized, with each panel testing for the 60 most common allergens of the region. It doesn’t require needles or shots, and the test only takes three minutes.

Dr. Besser can analyze the results in just 10-15 minutes. He uses the information to develop a customized treatment plan, which may include a strategy to avoid allergens, prescription eye drops, or other medical therapies.