Guide to Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergies come in many shapes and forms. Most of them cause uncomfortable symptoms around the respiratory system and the sinuses. Anyone with allergies will likely feel that they have a cold, though these symptoms might not come from a virus. Allergic conjunctivitis is one of these conditions that is often confused for the common cold when it can actually be a sign of an allergic reaction. Below we present a guide to allergic conjunctivitis.

Guide to Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is one of the most common tree allergies that can be triggered by outside elements. It is a condition characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin and almost see-through layer of tissue on the inside of the eyelids. This condition is triggered by exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mold spores. If untreated, this can cause the immune system to overreact and make matters worse. Read our below guide to allergic conjunctivitis to learn more.

Symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis

You might be wondering what to expect if you have allergic conjunctivitis. Since this allergic reaction typically affects the areas around the eyes, that is where most symptoms take place. The most common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:

  • Itching: One of the hallmark symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis is itching of the eyes, which can be mild to severe and may worsen with exposure to allergens.
  • Redness: The eyes may appear red or bloodshot due to inflammation of the blood vessels in the conjunctiva.
  • Watery discharge: Allergic conjunctivitis can cause excessive tearing or watery discharge from the eyes, leading to a constant feeling of moisture or wetness.
  • Swelling: Swelling of the eyelids or conjunctiva may occur, causing the eyes to appear puffy or swollen.
  • Burning or stinging: Some individuals may experience a sensation of burning or stinging in the eyes, particularly when exposed to allergens or irritants.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek prompt medical attention from an eye care specialist or allergist. While allergic conjunctivitis is not typically a serious condition, it can significantly impact your quality of life and interfere with daily activities such as reading, driving, or working on a computer.

How We Treat Allergic Conjunctivitis

Treatment for allergic conjunctivitis aims to alleviate symptoms and reduce inflammation, thereby improving comfort and overall eye health. Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment options may include:

  • Antihistamine eye drops. Over-the-counter or prescription-strength antihistamine eye drops can help relieve itching, redness, and other symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis by blocking the effects of histamine—a chemical released by the immune system in response to allergen exposure.
  • Mast cell stabilizers. These eye drops work by preventing mast cells in the conjunctiva from releasing histamine and other inflammatory substances. Mast cell stabilizers are particularly effective for preventing symptoms when used regularly, even before allergen exposure occurs.
  • Decongestant eye drops. These eye drops contain vasoconstrictors that temporarily reduce redness and swelling in the eyes by constricting blood vessels. This works similarly to a nasal decongestant. However, decongestant eye drops should be used sparingly and for short periods to avoid rebound redness or worsening of symptoms.
  • Cold compresses. Applying cold compresses or chilled artificial tears to the eyes can help soothe irritation, reduce inflammation, and alleviate symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Avoiding allergens. Whenever possible, try to avoid going outside when certain allergens are in the air. This condition can come from tree pollens and other natural plant matter that show up during spring and summer. Keep your windows closed when it is windy outside and clean your house of pet dander to avoid further complications.

In addition to these treatment options, it is crucial to consult with Dr. Shukla for a comprehensive evaluation and management plan. In some cases, allergic conjunctivitis may be associated with other allergic conditions such as asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), or eczema, requiring a coordinated approach to treatment.

As the top-rated allergy and asthma specialist in New York, Dr. Shukla is prepared to offer personalized treatments to patients struggling with yearly allergy symptoms. Contact us today to schedule your allergy consultation.

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