Allergic Conjunctivitis

introduction

What is Conjunctivitis?

Inflammation of conjunctiva (Transparent membrane covering white part of the eye) is called Conjunctivitis. It is a condition where the eye turns red. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused due to allergy. The agents which cause allergies are known as allergens. Every individual is allergic to one or other substance in the environment. The most common allergens are dried grass, pollen grains etc. List of allergens are endless and individual specific. When an individual who is prone for allergy; get exposed to allergens, it causes release of some chemicals in tissue e.g. Histamines by allergy mediating cells like Mast cells. It causes itching, redness, and watering from eyes. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious unlike the traditional red eye or infective conjunctivitis.

Symptoms and Signs of Conjunctivitis

Below we have mentioned some of the many signs of allergic conjunctivitis:

  • Itching
  • Watery eyes
  • Redness & swelling
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Discomfort to light

How can it be diagnosed?

Routine examination by an eye doctor is sufficient. Some signs are very specific for allergic conjunctivitis like papillae, ropy discharge, limbal hyperplasia. To find out specific allergens, Allergy test can be done in individuals who are prone for generalized systemic allergy like asthma, eczema, Atopy etc. Otherwise, such tests are not recommended as avoidance to these allergens is practically cumbersome in routine life.

List of allergens

  • Pollen grains
  •  Dust
  •  Cosmetics (Kajal, eye liners, Mascara etc)
  •  Air pollution
  • Smokes
  •  Eye drops (used for longer period like Anti glaucoma drops etc.)

Types of Allergic Conjunctivitis

  • Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis & perennial allergic conjunctivitis (Most common types)
  • Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (More common in Children)
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis (More common in daily contact lens users)
  • Phlyctenular keratoconjunctivitis (Hypersensitivity to Staph. Aureus, TB bacilli)

How can it be treated? Know More About Allergic Conjunctivitis Treatment.

Before getting to allergic conjunctivitis treatment, it is imperative to understand that complete cure of allergy is not feasible, but symptoms of allergy can be suppressed with the help of medicines. Rubbing of eyes due to itching causes more trouble to eyes than allergy itself, so intense rubbing of eyes should be avoided.

Avoidance of allergens is the IDEAL treatment but it’s easier to say than done as it will severely hamper lifestyle and quality of life. How long the allergic conjunctivitis lasts depend on the type, severity and the treatment taken along with the compliance for the treatment.

Medicines in the form of eye drops like mast cell stabilizers (Olopatadine, Sodium Cromoglycate), antihistamines (Ketotifen, Bepotastine), NSAID ( ketorolac), Steroids (loteprednol, FML, Difluprednate, Prednisolone etc), immune modulators (Cyclosporine, Tacrolimus eye ointment), are useful in treating allergic conjunctivitis.

Any eye drops should not be started without an ophthalmologist opinion to avoid its side effects.

Using sunglasses while going out, cold compression can alleviate allergic symptoms and serve as a useful home remedy for eye itching.

FAQ

What are some home remedies for different types of eye allergies?

As mentioned above, there are four types of eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis. The moment you start witnessing any signs or symptoms of an allergic eye, quickly get in touch with your ophthalmologist to seek expert medical advice. Since they have all the right knowledge and equipment, they will ensure that you receive the best treatment.

 

However, on the other hand, there are some home remedies for the treatment of conjunctivitis that might or might not be effective. Below we have mentioned some of the many remedies that you can try out:

  • Try applying cold compresses to the eye to lower the effect of the allergic reaction.
  • If you have lubricating eye drops at your home, try using them as they can flush out the allergens that have gotten into your eyes.

Four types of allergic conjunctivitis are perennial allergic conjunctivitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, giant papillary conjunctivitis and phlyctenular keratoconjunctivitis. Below have mentioned each type of allergic eye in a brief yet detailed manner:

  • Perennial allergic conjunctivitis: This refers to the inflammatory response that is suddenly triggered by exposure to allergens like animal dander, pollens, and many other antigens. Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis that lasts for less than 4 weeks makes up for most ocular eye allergy cases.
  • Vernal keratoconjunctivitis: This is a bilateral, seasonally occurring and acute form of allergic inflammation that affects the ocular surface. In comparison with other allergic conjunctivitis, this is capable of causing extreme damage to the ocular surface of the eye which can lead to vision loss or corneal scarring.
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis: This type of allergic eye leads to redness, irritation, and swelling in the lining of the membrane inside the eyelids. It is imperative to keep in mind that people who have an artificial eye or wear contact lenses have the highest risk of getting giant papillary conjunctivitis.
  • Phlyctenular keratoconjunctivitis: Nodular inflammation of the conjunctiva or the cornea of the eye is called phlyctenular keratoconjunctivitis. This type of allergic eye reaction often results from sudden hypersensitivity reaction to antigens.

Most types of conjunctivitis are caused by herpes simplex and adenovirus. Both these types can occur with respiratory infections and other symptoms related to cold like sore throat. On the other hand, if you wear unclean contact lenses, there is a chance you might develop bacterial conjunctivitis.

Both these viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious as they can spread through indirect or direct contact with the liquid present in the infected person’s eye.

It is imperative to practice good hygiene to control the spread of allergic conjunctivitis. Below we have carefully curated a list of preventive measures you can take to keep pink eye at bay:

  • Do not share washcloths or towels
  • Wash your hands and do not touch your eyes
  • Try to change your pillow covers between intervals
  • Abstain from sharing personal eye care items and eye cosmetics
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