Angela Fa

/Angela Fa
Angela Fa

About Angela Fa

Angela is currently in her fifth year of optometry studies at QUT, commencing her Master’s degree in 2016. In 2015, she completed the Bachelor of Vision Science, graduating with a Distinction. She has achieved membership of the Golden Key International Honour Society for achievement in her studies and is also a student executive of the Queensland Optometry Student Society. With three years of experience in the optical industry, Angela works closely with our optometrists, and has an important role in undertaking diagnostic imaging. Angela loves travelling and exploring new places, hot yoga and hiking.

Why are my eyes so itchy?

I’m sure most of us can relate to having experienced some sort of seasonal allergy when Spring and Summer comes around. For some it’s a mild case of hayfever, whereas for others, it can be a struggle getting through those months. Besides the constant runny nose and sneezing, seasonal allergies also have a large effect on our eyes – from watery eyes to allergic conjunctivitis.

[1] Particularly for our contact lens wearers, the symptoms often are escalated.[4]

Let’s rewind back to the basics and explain how your eyes are affected by seasonal allergies. Your eyes are one of the most sensitive organs in your body. The surface of your eye is packed with receptors and mast cells which are essentially a group of cells that respond to stimuli, such as allergens in the environment (e.g. pollen during Spring and Summer). For those who are more sensitive to these allergens, it can trigger an immune response and begin the cascade of allergy symptoms.[2,3] Papillae (small bumps) under the top eyelid is commonly seen in patients who experience seasonal allergies.

Fortunately, eye drops that contain anti-histamine and mast cell stabiliser components can be used to relieve these symptoms. However, allergens have a particular affinity to soft contact lenses, which can often complicate the condition for our soft contact lens wearers. In mild cases, symptoms can be controlled with scheduled instillation of anti-allergy eye drops before and after contact lens wear.[4] It is also very useful to keep a bottle of lubricating eye drops on hand that can be used throughout the day to wash the allergens out. During allergy season, it is even more important to be diligent with the care and maintenance of your contact lenses, ensuring you do the ‘rub and rinse’ to rub off all the allergens on your lenses.

Some general tips for our soft contact lens wearers who have seasonal allergies – it may be worthwhile and more comfortable to switch back to wearing glasses more often than contacts during allergy season. If soft contact lenses are an essential in your everyday life however, you may want to consider switching to daily disposables rather than wearing your usual fortnightly/monthly lenses. This way you can replace the lenses more regularly and have less allergen exposure from frequent wear.

Furthermore, allergies and itch can increase the tendency to rub your eyes, however rubbing is no answer and can often make it worse! The best way to relieve itch is to apply a cold compress over your eyes – the cooling sensation will keep both the itch and swelling away.[4]

And lastly, if symptoms do not improve and you feel it is affecting your quality of life, make sure you book in with your optometrist for further investigation and opinion on treatment. We’re always here to help!

References

  1. Ackerman, S., Smith, L. M., & Gomes, P. J. (2016). Ocular itch associated with allergic conjunctivitis: latest evidence and clinical management. Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease, 52-67.
  2. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. (2014). Types of Allergies: Eye Allergy. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
  3. Bielory, L., & Ghafoor, S. (2005). Histamine receptors and the conjunctiva. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 437-40.
  4. Wolffsohn, J., & Bilkhu, P. S. (2012, May 24th). Maintaining contact lens wear in patients with allergic conjunctivitis. Contact Lens Update: Clinical Insights Based in Current Research.

By | 2018-06-28T07:03:00+00:00 21st July 2017|Allergies, Contact Lenses, Eye conditions|0 Comments

Volunteer eye exams in Mexico

VOSH International is a volunteer group that brings eye examinations and glasses to those who cannot afford eye health care in developing countries around the world. I was lucky enough to have embarked on their mission to Tecalitlan, a small town in Mexico, in November last year. The mission group included 3 Optometrists from USA and Canada, 7 optometry students from the Queensland University of Technology (including myself), 9 optometry students from the Illinois College of Optometry and several volunteers who helped in pre-testing, dispensing and translating.

Collectively, we saw over 3500 patients over 8 days with approximately 2800 patients requiring glasses. I had seen more eye disease and other ocular conditions in these 8 days than I had ever seen in Australia. Almost every patient had visible sun damage to their eyes (pterygiums and pingueculae), a large percentage of the aging patients had advanced cataracts, many had high blood pressure and diabetes with consequent damage to their retina (some were advanced and needed urgent attention), along with untreated glaucoma and macular degeneration. It was also very common to see patients with immensely high uncorrected vision, and not being able to afford glasses meant that they have lived their entire lives not knowing clear vision until the day we gave them glasses. Almost all of these patients were unaware of the current state of their eye health, all they knew was that their vision was deteriorating and they never understood why.

We live in a first world country where the luxury of health care is so easily accessible. Rarely would any of these conditions be seen so advanced in their time course due to preventative therapy, early detection and access to effective and safe treatment options. Not only was this trip incredibly eye opening, but it was also very humbling to witness how these people could be so happy and content despite the little that they had. I can honestly say that this trip had taught me so much more than I could ever imagine, and not only in the aspect of optometry, but also from the people. I will always be grateful for this experience and could only hope that our time in Tecalitlan has helped change the lives of the people we saw for the better.

For more information on VOSH International and their mission, please visit http://vosh.org/. You can also do your part to help by donating to the cause, every little bit helps!

 

By | 2017-03-08T09:40:33+00:00 1st March 2017|What we've been up to|0 Comments