Prevalence and impact of ocular allergy in the population attending UK optometric practice.

Research paper by James S JS Wolffsohn, Shehzad A SA Naroo, Navneet N Gupta, Jean J Emberlin

Indexed on: 29 Jan '11Published on: 29 Jan '11Published in: Contact Lens & Anterior Eye


To determine the prevalence of ocular allergy in patients attending optometric practices in the UK West Midlands and the impact this has on patients' daily lives.Patients attending 9 optometric practices in the West Midlands, UK, were surveyed about the occurrence of ocular allergy, the severity of the symptoms and their treatment. Patients self-reporting ocular allergy were invited to complete a more detailed questionnaire.Of the 1904 consecutive patients assessed (mean age 47.7±23.2 years, 55% female), 13% reported an allergy, 8% an ocular allergy, rated as at least mild in 85% of cases. Medication was used by 77% of patients reporting ocular symptomology. Patients with ocular allergy (n=126) completed the detailed questionnaire. Seasonal symptoms occurred for 3.4±1.9 months of the year with a peak in June to July. The most common 'hayfever' type symptoms were itchy eyes and a runny nose, and ocular symptoms were itchiness and a desire to rub the eyes. Most had gained medication over the counter (73%) with advice from GPs (53%), pharmacists (41%) or a friend or relative (18%). Only 11% consulted an optometrist. Medication was mainly in the form of antihistamine tablets (71%), eye drops (40%) and nasal spray (40%). Those interested in a specialist ocular allergy service (83%) were willing to pay £15.50 on average.Ocular allergy is relatively common, but treatment is often self-managed, does not appear to totally overcome the discomfort and rarely involves a detailed eye examination.