Understand what allergic conjunctivitis is. Also, when your eyes are exposed to substances such as pollen or mold spores, they can become red, itchy and watery. These are symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis . Allergic conjunctivitis is an eye inflammation caused by an allergic reaction to substances such as pollen or mold spores.
The inside of your eyelids and the covering of your eyeball have a membrane called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is susceptible to irritation from allergens, especially during hay fever season. Allergic conjunctivitis is quite common. It’s your body’s reaction to substances it deems potentially harmful.
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Allergic Conjunctivitis comes in two main types:
- Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis : This is a short-term condition that is most common during allergy season. Your eyelids suddenly swell, itch and burn.
- Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis : A less common condition called Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis can occur year round. It is a milder response to allergens such as food, dust and pet dander. The most common symptoms come and go, but include burning and itching of the eyes and sensitivity to light.
You experience Allergic Conjunctivitis when the body tries to defend itself against a perceived threat. It does this in reaction to things that trigger histamine release. Your body produces this potent chemical to fight off foreign invaders. Some of the substances that cause this reaction are as follows:
- house dust
- Tree and grass pollen
- mold spores
- animal hair
- Chemical scents, such as household detergents or perfume
Some people may also experience allergic conjunctivitis in reaction to certain medications or substances that have gotten into the eyes , such as contact lens solution.
Who is at risk for Allergic Conjunctivitis ?: People who have allergies are more likely to develop Allergic Conjunctivitis . According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies affect 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children and often run in families.
Allergies affect people of all ages, although they are more common in children and young adults. If you have allergies and live in places with high pollen counts, you are more susceptible to Allergic Conjunctivitis .
How is Allergic Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?: The doctor will examine your eyes and review your allergy history. Redness in the white part of your eye and small bumps inside your eyelids are visible signs of conjunctivitis.
Your doctor may also order one of the following tests: A Skin allergy test exposes your skin to specific allergens and allows your doctor to examine your body’s reaction, which may include swelling and redness.
A blood test may be recommended to see if your body is making proteins, or antibodies, to protect itself against specific allergens, such as mold or dust. Scrapings of your conjunctival tissue may be taken to examine white blood cells. Eosinophils are white blood cells that become activated when you have allergies.
Home Care: Treating allergic conjunctivitis at home involves a combination of prevention strategies and activities to alleviate your symptoms. To minimize your exposure to allergens:
- Closing windows when pollen count is high
- Keeping dust free at home
- Using an indoor air purifier
- Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, dyes and perfumes
- To relieve symptoms, avoid rubbing your eyes .
Medications: In more problematic cases, home care may not be adequate. You will need to visit a doctor who will be able to recommend the following options:
- Oral antihistamine to reduce or block histamine release
- anti-inflammatory eye drops
- Eye drops to constrict congested blood vessels
- steroid eye drops
What Are the Long-Term Prospects?: With proper treatment, you may experience relief or at least reduce your symptoms. Recurrent exposure to allergens, however, will likely trigger the same symptoms in the future.
How Can I Prevent Allergic Conjunctivitis?: Completely avoiding the environmental factors that cause Allergic Conjunctivitis can be difficult. The best thing you can do is limit your exposure to these problems. For example, if you know you are allergic to perfumes or house dust, you can try to minimize your exposure by using unscented soaps and detergents. You can also consider installing an air purifier in your home.