Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic Conjunctivitis
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Definition: Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye resulting from exposure to an allergen. Commonly known as an eye allergy, allergic conjunctivitis occurs when something you are allergic to irritates your eyes. The part of the eye that is affected is the conjunctiva, the delicate membrane that covers the eye and inside of the eyelid.

Why Does It Happen?

Like other allergies, allergic conjunctivitis happens because the immune system treats a harmless substance like an enemy, or allergen.

The immune system overreacts and produce antibodies that travel to cells, causing an allergic reaction to begin.  

Symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis

The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are watery, itchy eyes that are sometimes painful and become red or swollen. The symptoms are caused by histamines, substances that are released by cells to protect the eyes. 

You may be suffering from allergic conjunctivitis if you develop the following symptoms:

•    Watery eyes
•    Itchiness
•    Sensitivity to light
•    Redness
•    Grittiness
•    Eyelid swelling

Treatment of Allergic Conjunctivitis

Treatment includes avoidance of the allergen causing the reaction, which may include pollen, animal dander, perfumes and cosmetics, some skin medicines, air pollution and smoke. Treatment may also involve taking certain medications including antihistamines, decongestants, and medicated eye drops.

  • Indoor allergen treatment:  If your eye allergies seem to happen indoors, it is helpful to figure out the culprit. Dust and dander seem to cause a lot of problems in people with allergies. You might try using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a filter to reduce dust, and keep dust to a minimum by cleaning often. Dander can be reduced by sleeping in a different room than your pets and keep them groomed during shedding season. 
  • Outdoor allergen treatment:  If your symptoms flare out when you step outside, the culprit is most likely pollen during hay fever season and in the summer. Try wearing a wide brimmed hat  to prevent allergens from blowing into your eyes. Also, wear sunglasses to keep allergens from floating into your eyes. can also help reduce the amount of allergen that lands in the eyes.

    Over-the-counter antihistamine pills and eye drops are available and beneficial to some people. Be sure to ask your eye doctor if you use these often, as prolonged use may have a rebound effect and cause your symptoms to worsen. If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications or medicated eye drops. Allergy shots are another option. An allergist can sometimes identify certain allergens that cause your symptoms. Allergy shots can providing resistance to the triggering allergens.

    Allergic Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye?

    Allergic conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye. Unlike pink eye, which is caused by a virus or bacteria, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. It is important for your doctor to find out whether your symptoms are caused by allergies or infection. Both of these conditions should be treated in its own way.

    Also Known As: Pink Eye

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