Eye allergies

We’re off to our third trip in 2 weeks to the opthamalogist tomorrow because my daughter’s eyes have reacted to something. 2 weeks ago she came home and her eyes were all bloodshot, weeping, and burning. She also complained that the light hurt her eyes. Then the left lid started swelling up and she couldn’t open her eye.

The opthamalogist thought that she might be allergic to her contact lens solution because it’s been known to cause problems in people. He prescribed optical antibiotics and steroids. After another day of agony, she woke up and her eyes were clear. The opthamalogist deemed her “cured” and said that she could start wearing her contact lenses again after 24 hours, but to open up a brand new pair and use the new contact lens solution.

That was over a week ago. Today she came home and her left eye is swollen shut again. She said that her eyes felt a little itchy that morning and that they’d gotten progressively worse all day.

We have another appointment tomorrow morning, but I don’t think in my gut that she’s allergic to the solution. For one thing, she’s been using the solution without incidence for several years. Secondly, her symptoms usually begin in the morning, after her contacts have been out all night (she never wears them to bed), and they get progressively worse during the day.

I’ve already gotten hypoallergenic pillows and blankets. I’ve washed her sheets with TideFree and perfume free dryer sheets. Her blood tests came back and she’s allergic to grasses and trees. We have a 9 year old dog.

I’m kind of at my wits’ end here because I can’t figure out what’s going on with here eyes.

She could be an eye rubber, like me and contacting something - then carrying it into her eyes.

It could be a soap, a cleaning supply residue, an art supply, some random substance she is contacting on one of her friends. Is she borrowing eye makeup or lip gloss?

She doesn’t wear eye makeup. She does take ceramics, but only on odd days…

I’m wondering why he’d give antibiotics for an allergic reaction. (I work in ophthalmology, IANAD/N.)

When she first went in, she couldn’t keep her left eye open for him to examine it because the light bothered her so badly. Her eye was very bloodshot and weepy. I think he prescribed antibiotics as a precaution.

Are they the same brand she’s always worn? If they’re a different brand or the same brand but the manufacturer has changed the ingredients of whatever they’re packed in (never worn contacts but I’m assuming they’re packaged wet) there might be some kind of preservative or something she’s reacting to.

Huh. My first guess is that she’s having a reaction to some protein buildup on the lenses; it often takes some time to get sensitized, and then each lens has about a week before it’s intolerable. Daily disposables might help.

Another possibility is that at random intervals averaging about once a week, she gets a stray grain of pollen or some other allergen directly in the eye; her contacts initially shield her from it, but after she takes them out, they end up actually retaining some.

You say “her symptoms usually begin in the morning, after her contacts have been out all night,” but do they show up after she puts them in?

Last summer, my eyes started rejecting my contact lenses. As in, I would put them in and they wouldn’t stick to my eyes the way they were supposed to, they would around. My eyes would also get bloodshot and teary. When I talked to my eye doctor, he said that the most likely scenario was that I had allergies, and due to the allergies, my eyelids had developed tiny bumps (invisible to the naked eye) that were lifting the contacts away from the eye. (Essentially, the eye was recognizing my contacts as a foreign agent invading my body, and was activating an immune system response to rid my body of the foreign agent.)

He told me to stop wearing contacts and wear only glasses for about three months, and then also told me to take some over-the-counter eye drops. (He said he could give me a steroid prescription that would allow me to go back to wearing contacts in a month’s time, but it would be much more expensive.)

The reason I’m bringing all this up is because I get the impression from your OP that the problem cleared when she stopped wearing contact lenses for a few days. If she has been wearing contacts all day, every day, for years, then just giving her eyes a few weeks to breathe may alleviate much of the problem. It worked for me.

One possibility might be a diagnosis of recurrent corneal erosion. The medical treatment is a combination of a tetracycline antibiotic (usually doxycycline) & a corticosteroid (e.g. FML); the antibiotic suppresses the activity of MMP enzymes that break down molecular bonds in the inner layers of the cornea.

I had an episode of RCE about a year ago; after about 90 days of the doxycycline/FML regime, my ophthamologist said it was resolved, and I haven’t had any trouble since. A good thing, too, since for as long as I can remember, I’ve had seasonal eye problems, which were always diagnosed as allergic conjunctivitis & ususally treated with FML or blephamide.

Update: Her left eye had developed an ulcer from where her contacts were sticking to her eye. He has prescribed antibiotics and steroids for 3 days, then nothing for 2 days, then daily disposable contact lenses. She’s going to the optometrist to get re-fitted for contact lenses.

He’s trying to rule out the cleansing solution as a cause. If she reacts to the contact lenses, which he says is highly unlikely, then we’ll cross that bridge later.

She’s also getting a new pair of glasses so that she can give her eyes a rest more often.

Thanks for all the input.

Had she had a staining test before this point? (A yellow-tinted drop is put in the eye, and the doctor looks at the eye under a bluish light.) Or was the eye too swollen shut during the visits? A ulcer or other problem should be pretty easy to notice with such a test. I’m wondering at this point when the ulceration actually started. The corneal erosion might be a possibility as well.

I might be worried that she might have developed a minor viral or bacterial infection that contacts might contribute to.

(This is all my totally non-professional WAG’ing, mind you.)

My husband developed a case of keratitis a few years ago; his eye went from vaguely irritated the night before to nearly stuck shut, weeping, and beet red the next morning. We’d gone to see his mom in the hospital that day, so we think he picked up something like strep or staph there, perhaps, and rubbed it into his eye. He was given an antibiotic drop, an antibiotic (erythromycin) ointment, and a dilation drop to reduce the pain and irritation from his pupil contracting and reacting to the keratitis.

The optometrist has given us a 2 week trial of daily disposables. We’ve also ordered a new back-up pair of glasses just in case these end up irritating her eye.

We shall see.