Allergic Conjunctivitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The conjunctiva is a membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and extends over the front of the white part of the eye (sclera). Inflammation of the conjunctive caused by an allergy is called allergic conjunctivitis.

What causes allergic reactions?

Allergens are the substances that cause allergic reactions. The most common allergens are found in our environment. The eyes undergo frequent allergic reactions due to exposure to the environment. Ocular symptoms can result from an allergen coming into direct contact with the eyelid and/or conjunctive or can result from a larger allergic reaction (e.g., hay fever).

Contact ocular allergies can occur after using eye drop medications or contact lens solutions.

Airborne allergens that may provoke eye symptoms include

  • Tree, grass and weed pollens
  • House dust
  • Mold spores
  • Animal danders and feathers
  • Scents

What treatments help allergic conjunctivitis?

The best relief for any allergy is to eliminate or reduce exposure to the allergen. While avoiding certain drugs or foods may provide a solution, treatment would be more difficult if the offending allergen is as widespread as pollens. In these cases, taking medications to blunt the allergic reaction may be necessary.

In mild cases of allergic conjunctivitis, ocular itching and other symptoms may be tolerable without treatment. If symptoms become troublesome, a cold compress applied to the eyes could afford temporary relief from itching. A vasoconstrictor is the most commonly used medication. This type of drug shrinks the congested blood vessels in the conjunctive and reduces swelling. These drugs are available as eye drops, and many do not require a doctor's prescription.

Other medications may be needed for comparatively severe and acute allergic conjunctivitis. Some eye drops combine a vasoconstrictor and an antihistamine. Antihistamines relieve itching and tearing by blocking the action of histamine. When the allergic reaction involves parts other than the eyes, oral antihistamines may be helpful.

Another type of eye drop actually inhibits the release of histamine from one of its main sources in the body, the mast cells. Cromolyn sodium (Opticrom) drops may be used over a long term to reduce the number and severity of acute episodes of conjunctivitis.

Leave a comment

Latest Articles

Any Query?