Allergic conjunctivitis is a type of eye condition that is brought on by allergies. In allergic conjunctivitis, allergens such as pollen or mold spores make the eyes red, watery, and itchy.
The inside of the eyelid and the covering of your eyeball have a membrane known as the conjunctiva, which is susceptible to irritants and allergens. The risk of allergic conjunctivitis is higher during the allergy season, and it is a common condition among those who suffer from allergies. Essentially, this is your body’s way of responding to allergens, just like having a runny nose and itchy ears.
Causes and complications of allergic conjunctivitis
There are two main types of allergic conjunctivitis: acute and chronic. Acute allergic conjunctivitis is a short-term condition that takes place mainly during allergy season. It is characterized by swollen and watery eyes, along with a runny nose.
Chronic allergic conjunctivitis is less common, but it essentially means a person experiences allergic reactions all year round. It can be triggered by food, dust, and animal dander. The symptoms usually come and go.
The main cause of allergic conjunctivitis is allergens, with common ones being dust, mold, pollen, animal dander, and chemical scents from detergents or perfume.
Complications rarely arise, as allergic conjunctivitis is more of an annoyance and frustration to live with. Allergic conjunctivitis can impede on daily activities and affect concentration as you are distracted by the irritating sensation in your eyes.
Complications that may arise – although rare – include:
- Corneal inflammation
- Intense eye pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Feeling that there is something in your eyes
- Watery eyes
Signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis
Signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:
- Feeling of itchiness or grittiness in the eyes
- Eye redness and inflammation
- Pink or red tone in the whites of the eyes
- Burning sensation in the eyes
- Eye soreness
- Watery eyes
- Eye swelling
Diagnosis of allergic conjunctivitis
Your doctor will examine your eyes and review your previous allergy tests. They may request a new allergy test, as allergies can change within a few years’ time. Especially, if you never experienced allergic conjunctivitis previously, it could be a sign that a new allergy has developed.
Either a skin allergy test or a blood test to look for proteins and antibodies can help your doctor determine what you are allergic to.
Once the doctor uncovers your allergens, they can then recommend a treatment plan for you.
Treatment options for allergic conjunctivitis
The best way to treat allergic conjunctivitis is to avoid allergens. Sometimes, this may be difficult as you don’t always have control over what you get exposed to. Taking antihistamines can help reduce severity of symptoms related to allergic conjunctivitis.
Other tips to avoid allergens include spending less time outdoors when pollen counts are high, avoiding exposure to harsh chemicals, and using an indoor air purifier at home.
Avoid rubbing your eyes and apply cool compresses to your eyes to relieve symptoms.
As for medications, as mentioned, antihistamines – along with eye drops – can help relieve the symptoms.
By trying to avoid your allergy triggers as best as possible you can have better success in managing your allergic conjunctivitis. If you can’t do so, finding effective ways to reduce your symptoms can help you better manage your condition.