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    3 tips to navigate the allergy discussion with kids

    Rise to the pediatric allergy challenge

    How often do you ask a child in the exam chair if her eyes were “ever” itchy or watery? When I started to ask this question to every patient in my pediatric population, it was quite evident that there was an undiscovered gold mine in my anterior segment practice. Allergies in the pediatric population are trending upward in a startling and truly dangerous manner. 

    Statistically, epidemiological studies and surveys in the U.S. have illustrated approximately 50 million patients suffer from some form of allergy and 20 to 25 percent with  ocular allergies.1 Dissecting these numbers further, Abelson et al found that approximately 40 percent of children were affected by allergic conjunctivitis.2 After digging through the literature, my mission statement became how to effect change today in the hearts and minds of optometric physicians to start treating pediatric patients in a more aggressive manner in their practices.

    What's trending in ocular allergy treatment

     

    What’s in it for me?

    The short answer is everything to lose but immensely more to gain! Although children can take more time to examine and be confounding in their history, I have found easy open-ended questions helpful to slice through for the purpose of time management (See box). The queries might seem simplistic, but they have streamlined and improved chair time in my busy clinical setting. Furthermore, parents are both impressed with the clear responses from their children and in many cases shocked that the children have any symptoms of allergies. Once the child acknowledges the symptoms of the condition, the parent will begin to engage you. This becomes your platform to educate the parent about chronic allergy treatment and management, whether it is seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC), perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC), or vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC). At this moment, the doctor has waged the adherence war and achieved a significant victory.

    Next: The pharmacy conundrum

    Michael S. Cooper, OD
    Michael S. Cooper, OD, is in private practice in Willimantic, CT. He is a consultant to Allergan, BioTissue, Johnson & Johnson Vision ...

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