What is Allergic Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is a condition in which the conjunctiva, a thin membrane enveloping the eyeball and inside of the eyelids, is inflamed. It is not dangerous, but is unpleasant and irritating. If your eyes encounter an allergen, the substance that stimulates an allergic reaction to occur, your eyes may become swollen, red, watery and itchy in addition to swelling of the eyelids. This inflammation is known as allergic conjunctivitis.
It is caused by the immune system urging the body to generate histamine, allowing blood vessels to enlarge. Excessive tears eventually occur owing to the irritation of the nerve endings. It can develop in one eye, and eventually affect both eyes after a day or two.
The irritation can affect anyone and develop very quickly, making it possible to mistake conjunctivitis for other eye condition. Some allergens can result in this. The following are the causes and treatments of this inflammation based on their type:
Known as contact dermatoconjunctivitis, symptoms such as red, swollen, and watery eyes might develop within two to four days after applying cosmetics or eye-drops. Once these allergens have contacted the conjunctiva, an allergic response can happen due to an irritation. It is recommended that you consult a doctor or ophthalmologist if you are sensitive to cosmetics or eye drops, so that he or she might prescribe alternative one that is good to your eyes. Keep in mind that mast cell stabilizer eye drops and antihistamine eye drops will not succeed in alleviating these symptoms.
Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis
Called allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, this is when the allergy occurs in the spring and summer months, usually due to pollen in the air. If pollen affects you, then you may experience a stuffy or itchy nose, sneezing, sore throat and irritated eyes. Collectively these symptoms constitute a condition known as hay fever.
Pollen is a common allergen from grass, trees and ragweed. The symptoms can subside within a few weeks or at when the season is over. You might not need any treatment if symptoms are mild, but you can apply mast cell stabilizer eye drops, antihistamine eye drops, or antihistamine tablets to allay the symptoms. The doctor or ophthalmologist might recommend steroid eye drops to decrease inflammation.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
A contact lens can lead to this kind of conjunctivitis, especially for those who are sensitized. This type is uncommon, causing the inflammation of the conjunctiva of the upper lid. Dust behind the lens is believed to cause an inflammation. It is important, then, to keep your contact lens along with solution, and case sterile. In addition, this condition might occasionally occur when the patient wears hard contact lenses after eye surgery. Treatments involve mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine eye drops in addition to improving lens hygiene to allay the symptoms.
Perennial conjunctivitus can last all year, and is usually a result of dust mites that thrive mainly in carpets, furniture, mattresses and pillows. A dust mite allergy can result in an irritation of the eye. If you have perennial conjunctivitis, you are more likely to develop perennial allergic rhinitis, which is characterized with sneezing and a runny nose. It may get worse upon waking in the morning. Treatments can include eye drops, antihistamine tablets, and steroid eye drops with doctor recommendation.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women cannot receive some treatments such as eye drops. Therefore, it is strongly recommended seeing the doctor or ophthalmologist.
Medicalnewstoday.com: What is Allergic Conjunctivitis? What Causes Allergic Conjunctivitis? - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157692.php
Eyecare-information-service.org.uk: Allergic Conjunctivitis - https://www.eyecare-information-service.org.uk/disorders/allergic-conjunctivitis.html
Patient.co.uk: Allergic Conjunctivitis - https://www.patient.co.uk/health/Allergic-Conjunctivitis.htm
Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.