Allergic Conjunctivitis or Allergy Eyes
word conjunctivitis refers to the swelling and redness of the thin layer of
mucous membrane (the conjunctiva) that lines the inside of your eyelids and the
white part of your eye. Allergic conjunctivitis often involves itching,
watering, and redness of the eye.
response is an unwarranted over-reaction of the body’s immune system
to foreign substances known as allergens, which the body wrongly
perceives as a potential threat. The response can be innate or
Allergic Conjunctivitis could be seasonal or perennial (year
round). Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis .. (hay fever conjunctivitis), is the
more common type and as the name suggests, it is related to specific pollens
that spore during specific seasons. Symptoms generally include red, itchy, and
watery eyes. People affected by hay fever and other seasonal allergies also
experience symptoms involving the nose and throat. Perennial allergic
conjunctivitis is a year-round allergic condition. These allergic responses are
often related to animal dander, dust, or other allergens that are present in the
environment year round. Symptoms are similar to seasonal allergic
conjunctivitis: however, they tend to be milder.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis generally occurs in the spring months (grass
pollen induced), and in the late summer months (ragweed pollen induced). Itching
is a dominant symptom in seasonal allergic conjunctivitis diagnosis, as well as
watery/mucus discharge, burning, and redness.
Causes of Allergic Conjunctivitis
person develops the condition when exposed to an allergic or sensitive
substance, also known as an allergen. Trees, grass, weeds, and flowers
release the allergen pollen into the air. During the spring and fall months,
pollen levels are at their highest. Pollen is considered one of the hardest
causes of allergic conjunctivitis to control. Some common types of pollen
include, ragweed, cedar and ash.
mold is also released through the air, from substances such as
leaves, grass, and hay. It can also develop in damp atmospheres within the
home, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
Pets: A dog or cat's dander, or skin flakes, as well as its saliva and
urine can be powerful allergens. Although the actual hair of a pet is not
considered a powerful allergen itself, the pet's hair or fur can collect
mold, pollen, and dust.
Dust mites, tiny bugs that are related to spiders and ticks, also cause
Air pollution, such as the type released from automobiles and factories,
is commonly one of the more powerful types of contamination linked to
Chemicals found in certain paints, carpeting, etc.
There are several unique manmade and natural causes of allergic
conjunctivitis. By avoiding or minimizing contact with these substances, you
can limit the degree of your allergic reactions.
The Seasonal allergies typically produce a thin, watery discharge and do not
involve the cornea
Burning in eye
and red eyelids.
intense itching of the eyes
sensation of foreign body in eye
Allergy sufferers who wear
contact lenses can experience higher incidences of
allergic conjunctivitis during the allergy season, although in some situations
chafing of the conjunctiva by the edge of the lens can be mistaken for an
allergic reaction. If it is an allergy, it could be a reaction to the
combination of your contact lenses and topical medication. In addition, pollen
can stick to the lens, worsening the situation. Sometimes, a semirigid
gas-permeable lens will help because it doesnt pick up as much pollen.
Otherwise, the best treatment is not to wear contacts during the allergy season.
Conjunctivitis can usually be
diagnosed and treated by your General
Practitioner. The doctor will usually diagnose the condition based on
examination of your eyes and the history that you give. Sometimes a swab has to
be taken from the eye, especially if there is no improvement on standard
treatment. In some cases that are severe or do not respond to treatment, you may
need to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).
A cool compress on the eyes may relieve some of the symptoms and help prevent
rubbing the eyes. If the eyelids have crusts, gently soften them with warm
compresses. Gently washing the eyelids with baby shampoo on a cotton applicator
can help remove crusts.
Artificial tears used several times a day (4-6 times) can also relieve symptoms.
If you suspect pink eye, remember to wash your hands often, and avoid touching
the unaffected eye. The infection will run its course in about 10 days.
This can be treated using topical antihistamine drops. Drops such as sodium
cromoglicate can be used to prevent the allergic response and they need to be
used for many weeks in order to give any result. Dispose of any antibiotic eye
drops after the treatment is over. People who suffer from conjunctivitis should
have a special towel that only they use.
Corticosteroid drops are occasionally used, but should only be used under the
supervision of an ophthalmologist. The main treatment should be identifying what
is triggering off the allergic response and removing this source of allergen.
Even if left untreated, most forms of conjunctivitis will gradually get better
on their own in a few weeks.
In order to prevent allergic conjunctivitis, one should attempt to identify
which allergens cause the symptoms. Once the specific types are pinpointed, one
should then attempt to avoid them by taking the necessary precautions. Staying
indoors when mold and pollen levels are high, vacuuming the house to lift pet
hair, pet dander, and dust mites are some examples of actions one can take to
avoid or minimize allergic conjunctivitis reactions.
Good hygiene of hands and face is important. There should be no sharing of face
towels, especially if someone has conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis can spread from one eye to the other, especially when you rub
your eyes. Pus and crust should be removed by bathing the eye with lukewarm salt
water which can also lessen the symptoms.
Avoid wearing contacts during the allergy season.
Change your pillowcase daily
If cosmetic is the cause, discard your eye make-up, because it is probably
contaminated. Resume wearing eye make-up only after the conjunctivitis has
Dated 13 June 2013