What is allergic conjunctivitis?
Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition that occurs when the conjunctiva becomes inflamed due to an allergic reaction to dander, pollen, mold or other substances.
The conjunctiva is a clear layer of tissue that lines the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelids.
Allergic conjunctivitis is known as one of the most treatable and common eye conditions in both adults and children. Also known as pink eye, allergic conjunctivitis is not a contagious condition.
What are the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?
Red, itchy, watery, and burning eyes are common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. You may also wake up in the morning with puffy eyes.
Most cases of pink eye disappear as soon as the allergen is removed or when the affected person takes treatment.
What causes allergic conjunctivitis?
You experience allergic conjunctivitis when your body tries to defend itself against a perceived threat. It does this in reaction to things that trigger the release of histamine. Your body produces this potent chemical to fight off foreign invaders. Some of the substances that cause this reaction are:
Some people may also experience allergic conjunctivitis in reaction to certain medications or substances dropped into the eyes, such as contact lens solution or medicated eye drops.
Who is at risk for allergic conjunctivitis?
People who have allergies are more likely to develop allergic conjunctivitis. Allergies affect 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children, and often run in families.
Allergies affect people of all ages, though they are more common in children and young adults. If you have allergies and live in locations with high pollen counts, you are more susceptible to allergic conjunctivitis.
What are the types of allergic conjunctivitis?
Allergic conjunctivitis comes in two main types:
Acute allergic conjunctivitis
This is a short-term condition that is more common during allergy season. Your eyelids suddenly swell, itch, and burn. You may also have a watery nose.
Chronic allergic conjunctivitis
A less common condition called chronic allergic conjunctivitis can occur year-round. It is a milder response to allergens like food, dust, and animal dander. Common symptoms come and go but include burning and itching of the eyes and light sensitivity.
How is allergic conjunctivitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will examine your eyes and review your allergy history. Redness in the white of the eye and small bumps inside your eyelids are visible signs of conjunctivitis.
How is allergic conjunctivitis treated?
There are many treatment methods available for allergic conjunctivitis:
Treating allergic conjunctivitis at home involves a combination of prevention strategies and activities to ease your symptoms. To minimise your exposure to allergens:
In more troublesome cases, home care may not be adequate. You will need to see a doctor who might recommend the following options:
What is the long-term outlook?
With proper treatment, you can experience relief or at least reduce your symptoms. Recurring exposure to allergens, however, will likely trigger the same symptoms in the future.
How do I prevent allergic conjunctivitis?
Completely avoiding the environmental factors that cause allergic conjunctivitis can be difficult. The best thing you can do is to limit your exposure to these triggers. For example, if you know that you are allergic to perfume or household dust, you can try to minimise your exposure by using scent-free soaps and detergents. You may also consider installing an air purifier in your home.
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