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Allergic Conjunctivitis

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As we already know from past articles, there is a clear and thin membrane called conjunctiva that covers externally all of the white part of the eye ball and the internal part of the eyelids. If this membrane gets inflamed it turns red and this is what is termed as conjunctivitis.

Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation process of the conjunctiva that produces itching of the eyes, redness and sensitivity to light, tearing and the sensation of foreign body or sandiness upon blinking. It is usually accompanied by allergic rhinitis so that both nasal and ocular symptoms appear and disappear around the same time if this is the cause of the conjunctivitis. {{more}}

Allergens (substances that are capable of producing allergies) arrive to the conjunctiva via the air, by physical contact or by blood.

What causes allergies to appear in the eyes? Pollen is the most common cause, pet hair (especially from cats), dust and fungus. Other causes can originate from the work environment, for example, latex use, flour etc.

The most common symptoms are itchy eyes, red eyes, swelling of the eyelids, tearing or watery eyes and sandiness; it is generally bilateral. The diagnosis is made on the history as related by the patient, family history, a

thorough physical examination and skin tests to identify the origin of the allergies.

In the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis it is very important to first of all identify the agent responsible for the affliction. Once identified, it will then need to be eliminated or the patients’ exposure to be decreased where possible. In the acute stage of the disease, cold compresses are used several times a day or as indicated by your ophthalmologist. Topical or systemic antihistamines and non steroid anti-inflammatory medications are also prescribed. During this phase it is not advisable to use your contact lens and the eyes must be protected from the sunlight by using sunglasses.

Allergic conjunctivitis is irritating and uncomfortable but it will not hurt your eyesight.

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