Ophthalmology & Optometry/Pinkeye or something else?


QUESTION: Hi there!
So, first of all, I want to preface this with the fact that I KNOW that everything I've decided to do with my eyes in this situation has been really stupid and possibly dangerous...but maybe you can advise me as to what to do now (other than go to the doctor's, since I'm insurance-less until school starts back up...)

I have absolutely terrible, allergy-ridden, pink-eye prone eyes. They're sensitive and I wear daily, disposable contacts because they get irritated so easily. I get pink-eye once  a year, generally, or once every two years. They always give me drops, though I'm not actually sure they're necessary. Regardless, I have some extra drops that don't expire for a year.

4 weeks ago, my allergies (which severely affect my eyes w/ itchiness) flared up, and I was constantly battling itchiness and watery-ness. One day, I woke up with the classic conjunctivitis signs that didn't dissipate. SO, I decided to use the drops (polymyxin b sulfate and trimethoprim ophthalmic solution usp), rather than go to the doctor. (I know, bad.) I used them according to the instructions for 4 days, things cleared up, so I stopped using them and put my contacts back in. A few days later, the symptoms came back, but I couldn't tell if they were allergies or not. I used Visine, but the itching was so severe and red, that I decided to use the antibiotic drops again.I did this for 2 days, things cleared up, so I decided that maybe I had an infection that hasn't fully gone away. So I started using the drops in the morning, putting my contacts in, then using them before bed when I took my contacts out. I did this for another few days, and then decided it might be a stupid idea, so I stopped.

My eyes have continued to be itchy, but I decided it's just contacts. But sometimes, when they've gotten really itchy over the past few days, I used the drops at night. (This is where everything gets extra stupid). But I woke yesterday morning with the most red, itchy, watery eyes I've ever seen. I got nervous, because I'm worried I've had pinkeye this entire time but I haven't given myself the proper 7-10 days treatment, so it's just been coming back, OR my use of the drops has done something bad to my eyes (super infection? irritated them?).

Basically, I don't know what to do now. I figured I would just literally give myself 7-10 days of the treatment, just wear my glasses, and do the proper dosage of drops, but I've already been really stupid with this process in the past, so I don't know what to do. And I really don't want to go to the doctor if not necessary.

So, sorry for the length of this, but thank you for the help!

ANSWER: Dear Barbara,

Thanks for an elaborate history, it surely helps.
Yes, you have nailed it, the cause of the repeated attacks is most likely the contacts.
What needs to be done?

Immediate steps
1. you may try an over the counter anti allergy eye drop (usually Pataday works..Olopatadine is the component). speak to your local pharmacy
2. Take an antihistaminic (anti allergy) tablet daily for the next 3-4 days
3. You have used the antibiotic eye drops which worked, but yes, you also abused it by using it irregularly. So, for now, switch to glasses is the best idea, use anti allergy eye drops instead (Pataday, Optihist etc). these are available over the counter in most pharmacies.

For the long term

1. Try switching to daily disposables, though heavier on the pocket, they are much safer in the long run, if you continue to want to use lenses.
2. Try and find the cause of the allergy...is it in the environment? change in weather? seasonal etc. With the slightest red or itchy eye, itchy throat even, take an anti allergic tablet.
3. Run some allergy tests to help you find the cause

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Wow, your answer was honestly one of the most helpful and clear answers I've ever received on this site. Thank you so much!

I actually already use disposables (I have for many years) for that very reason, and I've been using Zaditor for a few weeks as well, which hasn't helped much. I also take two different allergy pills before bed, also.

I haven't used the antibiotics since I asked you this question, but could I be doing any damage to my eyes by using them? Like, what were the risks with using them sporadically like that? I'm just afraid I developed some weird super infection because of it...

Dear Barbara,

Thank you. I hope to help you through this.

1. Disposables if not daily, they are the kind that need to be cleaned carefully, vigilantly and replaced back in the box to be disposed off monthly. In dailies, there is no cleaning regimen as it is single use. The disadvantage of monthly or non daily ones being that if you have an allergy or mild infection, it sticks onto the lens and needs a more professional cleaning than a home regimen. This itself could be the cause of repeated allergy attack (allergic conjunctivitis) on the eyes

2. The antibiotics used sporadically will not damage the eye, however, may not work as efficiently the next time you need them because of improper use. Hence, always complete a 7 day course with any antibiotics.

As in any allergy, the permanent treatment lies in detecting the cause. unfortunately, there are no blood tests to determine the exact cause, though some point towards allergens. you may consider taking those as you will need to take this seriously if using 2 anti allergy pills a day...that is not good in the long run.

try and find some alternative therapies for allergies like homeopathy which may also help.

Hope this helps,

Anand Shroff

Ophthalmology & Optometry

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Dr Anand Shroff, MD, FICS


I can answer any question on eye care, expertise in Laser eye surgery, LASIK, Epi LASIK, cataract, glaucoma, keratoconus- corneal collagen crosslinking.


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