Can Spring Allergies Affect My Prosthetic Eye Comfort?
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from allergy symptoms during pollen season, you may be wondering if an itchy eye or discharge around your prosthetic eye is due to your allergies. We’ve put together this short guide to help you tell the difference between allergies and other issues that may be creating discomfort with your prosthesis and how to alleviate problems.
A Guide to Symptoms for People with a Prosthetic Eye
Allergies, colds, and sinus infections can all impact the eye socket and create more drainage and discomfort. If you have a sinus infection, antibiotics may be prescribed by your primary care doctor. If needed, steroids can also relieve symptoms. When drainage is caused by an allergy, cold, or sinus infection, it’s best to continue wearing your prosthesis to avoid tissue contraction.
- Mucus Buildup
Mucus or matter on the front of the prosthetic eye is not caused by seasonal allergies. For some prosthetic eye patients, the eyelids do not completely close during sleep. This can cause a partially dried film of matter on the front of the eye in the morning.
Sometimes this film can be cleared off without removing the eye. Try gently rubbing the prosthetic eye with moistened a q-tip. Never use any kind of cloth, as it can dull the surface of the eye.
- Itching or Scratching Sensation
If you feel an itching or scratching sensation, this typically indicates that the underside of the eyelid has become irritated due to a foreign body, such as an eyelash or dust, or a very thin film of mucus that you are unable to see. Each time you blink, the film or foreign body rubs against the eyelid, adding to the irritation.
To relieve itching or scratching symptoms, remove the eye and clean it according to cleaning directions.
Cleaning Your Ocular Prosthesis
Cleaning the prosthesis every 1-2 months is ideal. More frequent cleaning may irritate or dry out tissue.
Gently scrub the prosthesis with your fingertips using warm water and rinse thoroughly. Dry with a soft tissue, lightly buffing the surface. On occasion, mild soap or baby shampoo can be used and rinsed thoroughly. Avoid all cleaning solvents and alcohol as these may damage the prosthesis.
There are a number of products that can help reduce mucus and inflammation and add lubrication to your prosthetic eye and eye socket. These products include:
A number of silicone and water-based lubricants help increase the tear film that coats the surface of your prosthetic eye or scleral shell, providing more comfort, easier blinking, and a more natural appearance.
Note that if your eyelids do not close during sleep, oil-based lubricants are needed because water-based solutions evaporate and form hard, dry films across the front of the eyes, which become irritated during blinking.
- Eyelid Scrub
A special eyelid scrub called OCuSOFT is a gentle wipe that uses surfactants to dissolve debris your eye produces in response to inflammation.
When to See an Ocularist
If drainage, mucus, or itching continue after clearing the prosthetic eye and persist for more than a week, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your ocularist. Your ocularist can help determine if you have an infection of the eye socket, a scratch on the prosthetic eye, or possible changes to the socket that are leading to discomfort.
If you notice bulging out of the artificial eye, call your ocularist immediately. If there is an implant present, bulging could indicate extrusion or a granuloma.
It is also recommended to have your eye polished every 6 to 12 months. Polishing not only removes any scratches but also rids the prosthesis of protein buildup.
Call Us to Discuss Prosthetic Eye Care
Carolina Eye Prosthetics provides patients with all the follow-up care they need and an individualized care plan. If you need a new provider to help you care for your prosthetic eye or need a new prosthetic eye, schedule an appointment today. Contact us toll-free at (877) 763-9393.