Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition that results when the conjunctiva is exposed to an allergan. This condition typically occurs in both eyes and the hallmark signs are itching and redness.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the signs of allergic conjunctivitis include:
- Rubbing of the eyelids makes the itching more pronounced
- Swelling of the conjunctiva or eyelids
Allergic conjunctivitis can look very similar to toxic conjunctivitis, however it does not respond to the ocular medications used to treat other types of conjunctivitis.
What causes allergic conjunctivitis?
This allergic response is an overreaction of the body's immune system to foreign substances known as immunogens or allergens. This response can either be innate or acquired. The key component of the ocular allergic response is the mast cell. When mast cells interact with specific allergens they open like a lock being opened by a key--this is known as degranulation--discharging chemical mediators into the surrounding tissues. The primary chemical mediators include histamine, neutral proteases, and arachidonic acid.
Can it be treated?
Because there are many levels of ocular allergic reactions, management is primarily aimed at reducing symptoms. The most effective treatment for allergic conjunctivitis is to eliminate the potentially offending allergen, although this is not usually possible. Cold compresses, artificial tears and ointments soothe, lubricate and wash away or dilute the antigens on an as-needed basis. The topical antihistamines and oral antihistamines are also excellent therapies. Mast-cell stabilizers inhibit release of the histamine, but will take longer to relieve symptoms.
Our doctors will evaluate the severity of your allergic conjunctivitis and develop a treatment plan to relieve your itching red eyes.