NASCAR winner Jimmie Johnson talks about how allergies affect his driving
Gretchyn Bailey, NCLC, FAAO: Hi, everyone. I have the very big pleasure of being joined today by 7-time National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Cup winner and IndyCar rookie, Jimmie Johnson. He is going to talk to us today about ocular allergy. Jimmy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.
Jimmie Johnson: Yeah, no problem. Thank you, Gretchyn.
Bailey: So, I understand that you have ocular allergies, and you are starting to treat them. Tell me a bit about how itchy eyes affect your driving.
Ocular allergies and racing
Johnson: Oh man, they affect everyday life, including professionally driving a race car at 220 miles an hour. Obviously, in that environment, having itchy eyes and the allergy symptoms that come with all of that does not work well. I know in all of our professions, vision is very important. That comes with the job. But with mine, I feel like it is just a bit more important with the speed of traveling. If I have the irritation, swelling, and lack of clarity in my eyesight, it makes a big difference on the performance that I have that day.
I started suffering from allergy symptoms in my 20s and have tried everything that I can imagine to relieve them. But nothing has really helped the itchy eye situation I have had. Recently, Pataday (olopatadine hydrochloride, Alcon) showed up in my life. And their product, Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength (olopatadine hydrochloride 0.7%) has really changed the game for me and has brought so much comfort.
Bailey: Well, you said that you have had allergies for quite some time and you have tried a bunch of things. What have you gone through? What have you tried in order to get that relief from your ocular allergies?
Johnson: Honestly, I guess I just haven’t asked the right questions to my physician. But of course, I was surprised when I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast that I had this sickness that wouldn’t go away. So, I went to my doctor, and she said, “You have seasonal allergies.” I said, “Well, I’ve never had them!”She said, :Well, you do now. So, congratulations, here is what you need to do: try these pills, try these sprays.” And I have been through them all. I have had success at different points in time for different issues that I have had, but nothing has addressed the eye. It all makes sense to me now, especially being introduced to the Pataday product, that treating the problem at the source has been a game changer for me.
Bailey: Well, tell me a little bit about that. So you are now partnering with Alcon to talk about this. What prompted you to make that move?
Johnson: Thankfully, the agency that I work with. I shared with them all the likes and dislikes I have in my life, including allergy symptoms. And they were able to find the Alcon folks and understand that this product is now available over the counter. Alcon has a big marketing campaign wrapped around it. And I am very fortunate to be a part of the Pataday family.
Bailey: Well, you can help raise awareness, that is for sure, perhaps to people who are following you and what you do, because as you said, driving at that speed, you need to have good vision or the outcome might not be so good.
Johnson: Very true. And then also just everyday life. I am very active with the training required for the job and even on my bike cycling or outside running. Both of my daughters are big into riding horses. So, we are at the barn quite often. That is another source for allergy. My active lifestyle on top of my active career requires me to have my eyes and and comfort to come with that.
Bailey: You mentioned your daughters and horses. So, I understand that. Is it one daughter or both daughters who also have ocular allergies?
Johnson: I am aware of my youngest just being a sufferer, as of now. And they have some seasonal allergy issues, as well. But the spring has been exceptionally hard on the Johnson household. I noticed my 7 year old’s eyes were so swollen and bloodshot that she couldn’t stop rubbing them. I had just received my product from Pataday. I read the label saw that there wasn’t an age requirement for it, and gave her a drop in each eye. And 10 or 15 minutes later, she was thanking me profusely and so happy that she felt better. She could see again, and I was like, ”Wow, this is this stuff really does work.” And the fact that it works for all ages, for most ages, is something really special, too.
Bailey: So, you will probably need to replenish your supply if your daughter is now needing some as well, and she’s not alone. I know that allergies have been particularly bad this year. The pollen counts have been high. That is just something else that we can blame on COVID-19 and the pandemic. So, what is coming up next for you now that you have clear vision, you don’t have watery, itchy eyes. What’s coming down the pike for you? What can we see next from you?
Johnson: For me, I am 4 races into a 17 race schedule that I have for 2021. I am competing in 2 different series. One is the IndyCar Series that you mentioned. And then there is another series that is based on endurance racing. And it is a 4 way schedule for me. I have 2 more of those left. And then the remaining balance is on the IndyCar schedule onsome really, really neat tracks throughout North America, on top of driving some really amazing race cars. So, I have a few weeks off, which is nice. In the NASCAR world that I previously lived in, I had no weeks off. I am in a nice stretch right now where I am in week 1 of 3 weeks off in preparing for my next event in Indianapolis at the Indy Grand Prix.
Bailey: That sounds really exciting. And I am glad you will have a little bit of time off to get some rest and to make sure that your vision is clear and your allergies are under control. Thank you so very much for taking the time to talk with me today, Jimmy, and to talk about your experience with allergies and how Pataday is helping you.
Johnson: Thank you very much.