What can i do for my eye allergies
Treatment for giant papillary conjunctivitis
A problem with contact lenses is the main cause of this condition. Treatment is generally to remove contact lenses until the symptoms clear. Improved lens hygiene or a change in lens type may be needed to stop the problem returning. Antihistamine eye drops or mast cell stabiliser eye drops (described above) may also assist to ease symptoms before the lenses are tried again..
Treatment for seasonal, perennial and animal-related conjunctivitis
In addition to the general measures described above:
If symptoms are mild, no treatment may be needed.
Eye drops that reduce the allergic reaction are often prescribed.
(Tablets may also be prescribed and, in the past, injections own been used.)
The most commonly used eye drops are antihistamine eye drops and mast cell stabiliser eye drops. (Mast cells and histamine are both part of the body’s allergic reaction. The eye drops counter their effects.) Eye drops generally work well. You need to use them regularly to hold symptoms away until the cause of the allergy goes away (if it does). Some people discover one product works better than another.
Therefore, if the first does not work so well, a switch to another may assist. If your eyelids are extremely swollen, it may take several days for the drops to ease symptoms fully.
They are extremely effective and relatively free from side-effects. They need to be used frequently, as they are shorter-acting: four times a day or more.
For instance, children aged under 12 years and people with raised pressure in the eye (glaucoma) should not use them. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise if they are safe for you.
Therefore, care is needed if taking them when operating heavy machinery or when driving :
- Steroid injections — eg, triamcinolone (Kenalog®): years ago it was common for patients to enquire their doctor for a steroid injection once per hay fever ‘season’. This could be fairly effective in reducing the symptoms of hay fever. However, the side-effects and consequences of using injectable steroids every year are considerable. Steroids reduce immunity, cause weight acquire and can markedly thin the bones. Thinning of the bones has huge consequences in later life, when it can lead to fractures of the hip and spine. Doctors do not feel that these risks are justified to treat hay fever, even though its symptoms can be extremely irritating and distressing.
- Steroid eye drops — eg, betamethasone eye drops:steroid drops are extremely effective in eye irritation.
They calm below irritation and inflammation quickly. However, if infection is present (especially viral infection) they can rapidly make it severe. They can also cause glaucoma. Steroid drops should therefore only be used if other treatments fail. They are normally only used under the supervision of an eye specialist (ophthalmologist). Your GP will be reluctant to prescribe them.
- Modern antihistamines such as loratadine are taken once daily and they tend to cause less drowsiness. However, their effect on your sleepiness is never certain until you own tried them.
- Chlorphenamine (which is licensed for use even in little children) is short-acting and generally needs to be taken four times a day.
However, this antihistamine is prone to cause drowsiness.
- Steroid tablets — these are occasionally used for 3-5 days when symptoms are severe:steroid tablets work well but regular or longer courses are not advised because of possible side-effects with long-term use. The side-effects of repeated courses of oral steroids include increased appetite, weight acquire, suppression of the immune system (which is why they are used, but which is not excellent if you need to fight infection) and thinning of the bones.
Note: tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, as some treatments (including some eye drops) may not be advised.
Eye drops and contact lenses
Most drops contain preservatives.
However, in some cases preservative-free versions are available, as the preservatives may also cause eye irritation or allergy! Soft contact lenses should not be worn whilst the drops are being used, as the preservatives can be absorbed into the lenses and can further irritate the eyes.
The following can be useful whatever the cause of the allergic conjunctivitis:
- Bathing the eyes with a flannel soaked in freezing water or with an over-the-counter ‘eye bath’ may ease symptoms.
- Try not to rub your eyes, as this can cause more inflammation.
- If you use contact lenses: in general, do not wear lenses until symptoms own gone, and for 24 hours after the final dose of any eye drop or ointment.
However, your doctor or optician (optometrist) will advise if you can wear lenses with certain types of drops.
- Avoid the cause of the allergy, if possible.
For example, if you own seasonal conjunctivitis then during the hay fever season attempt to avoid pollen by staying indoors as much as possible. Shut windows, drive with windows shut and internal air circulation on in your car, and by wear wraparound sunglasses when out.
Treatment for contact conjunctivitis
Treatment is to avoid whatever caused the reaction. When caused by a cosmetic, you should let symptoms go completely before trying an alternative product.
Mascara should be changed for a unused bottle every three months in any case, on hygiene grounds. However, it may be necessary to change brand or type of eye make-up. Make-up which drops tiny fibres into the eyes, such as lash-lengthening mascaras, is a common cause. Lash-building and lash-thickening mascaras are often the culprits.
Some cases are caused by an allergy to a specific eye drop used for another eye disease. Glaucoma drops can commonly own this effect, as can the drops sold by pharmacists for lengthening eyelashes (these are actually a type of glaucoma medication).
In the first situation you may need a specialist’s advice as to what alternative eye drops may be suitable for the condition. In the second you may own to forget about lengthening eyelashes, or consider eyelash extensions (which need to be renewed every three to four weeks).
The general measures described earlier may assist to soothe the eye until symptoms resolve. Antihistamine eye drops or mast cell stabiliser eye drops (described above) do not work in this type of conjunctivitis.
What causes allergic conjunctivitis?
Allergy means that the immune system overreacts to something to which it has become sensitive.
Symptoms of increased immune activity in the eyes include redness, wateriness and itching. These are part of the body’s defence mechanism to things it sees as foreign and harmful. Causes include the following:
Giant papillary conjunctivitis
This is unusual.
It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva lining the upper eyelid. It occurs in some people who own a little object on the eye — most commonly, a contact lens. It affects about 1 in 100 wearers of contact lenses. The exact cause of the inflammation is unclear — it is possibly an allergic reaction to debris caught behind a lens or to poor lens hygiene (not being careful enough with managing your lenses). It also sometimes develops after eye surgery.
Allergies to animals
Coming into contact with some animals can cause allergic conjunctivitis. This is generally due to allergy to fur or hair.
Seasonal conjunctivitis due to pollens and moulds
Seasonal conjunctivitis occurs at the same time each year.
Most cases are due to pollen and happen in the hay fever season. Symptoms tend to final a few weeks each year and may vary with the pollen count. This is a measure of the quantity of pollen in the air each day. The pollen count is often published in the press and in online weather forecasts.
Different people are sensitive to diverse groups of pollens. Grass pollens tend to cause symptoms in early summer, generally from April through to July in the UK. Tree pollens may cause symptoms as early as February or March or as tardy as September, depending on when the tree species involved shed their pollen.
Various other pollens and moulds cause symptoms later in the summer.
If you own seasonal conjunctivitis you may also own other symptoms of hay fever, such as a runny nose and sore throat.
This is a conjunctivitis that persists throughout the year (perennial means through the year). This is most commonly due to an allergy to home dust mite. Home dust mite is a tiny insect-like creature that lives in every home. It mainly lives in bedrooms, carpets and mattresses, as part of the dust. People with perennial conjunctivitis generally also own perennial allergic rhinitis (this causes symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose).
Symptoms tend to be worse each morning when you first wake.
Some people become sensitised to cosmetics, make-up, eye drops or other chemicals that come into contact with the conjunctiva. This then causes an allergic response and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. In this condition the skin on the eyelids may also become inflamed. It is then called contact dermatoconjunctivitis.
Are there any possible complications?
Seasonal and perennial conjunctivitis can be unpleasant; however, complications do not generally happen. Contact dermatoconjunctivitis and giant papillary conjunctivitis occasionally cause inflammation and ulceration of the cornea (a condition called keratitis).
This can own a long-term effect on vision if left untreated.
What causes conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is generally due to allergy, infection or irritation of the conjunctiva.
Allergy is a extremely common cause.
Infection is the most common cause and, in addition to itch, redness and grittiness, there is generally a sticky discharge. Numerous germs (bacteria and viruses) can cause conjunctivitis. See separate leaflet called Infective Conjunctivitis for more details.
Irritant conjunctivitis is something most of us own experienced occasionally. For example, your conjunctiva may become red and inflamed after getting shampoo in your eyes, or after you rub your eyes when chopping chillies.
The chlorine in swimming baths is another common cause. Also, in the days when smoking was allowed in bars, numerous people developed irritant conjunctivitis from cigarette smoke.
This relax of this leaflet is about conjunctivitis caused by an allergy.
What should I glance out for?
It is sometimes hard for a doctor to tell the difference between allergic and infective conjunctivitis. This is particularly so in the hay fever season when red, watery eyes are common.
Allergic conjunctivitis and bacterial conjunctivitis generally affect both eyes:
- In allergic conjunctivitis both eyes tend to be equally affected at the same time.
- In bacterial conjunctivitis the condition tends to spread from one eye to the other.
If only one eye is red then it is extremely unlikely to be due to allergic conjunctivitis.
Many other eye conditions can cause one or both of the eyes to be red, and these may be mistaken at first for conjunctivitis. They include inflammatory conditions affecting the inside of the eye, shingles, iritis and ulceration of the eye (although every these conditions tend to cause blurring or reduction of vision, together with pain).
You should see a doctor if you are uncertain what is causing your symptoms and the symptoms do not settle within a few days.
Also, see a doctor urgently if any of the following occur:
- Your vision is reduced.
- Spots or blisters develop on the skin next to the eye, or on your eyelid or nose.
- Your symptoms change (for example, light starts to hurt your eyes).
- You own pain in the eye (mild soreness rather than pain is usual with conjunctivitis).
- The eye becomes extremely red — in specific, if it is on one side only.
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The primary types of eye allergy are seasonal or perennial allergic conjunctivitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, contact allergic conjunctivitis and giant papillary conjunctivitis.
Favorite Orgs for Related Pink Eye Info
American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIMF)
ABIMF supports the Choosing Wisely initiative to promote conversations between clinicians and patients.
The site addresses several eye-heath subjects, such as conjunctivitis. The website explains when antibiotics are and aren’t needed for pink eye.
Measles and Rubella Initiative
Because measles has been making a comeback recently among unvaccinated children and pink eye can be a symptom of measles, it’s helpful to know other symptoms of measles and how to identify the potentially life-threatening disease. The Measles and Rubella Initiative describes the serious health consequences from measles and why vaccination is so important.
Giant papillary conjunctivitis
Associated with wearing contact lenses, giant papillary conjunctivitis is a severe form of contact allergic conjunctivitis in which individual fluid sacs, or papules, form in the upper lining of the inner eyelid.
- Poor tolerance for wearing contact lenses
- Mucous discharge
- Blurred vision
- Foreign body sensation
Resources We Love
Seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is by far the most common type of eye allergy. Patients experience symptoms in spring, summer or drop, depending on the type of plant pollens in the air. Typical symptoms include:
- Clear, watery discharge
People with SAC may own chronic dark circles (known as allergic shiners) under their eyes.
The eyelids may be puffy, and bright lights may be bothersome. SAC symptoms often accompany the runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion associated with hay fever and other seasonal allergies. The itching may be so bothersome that patients rub their eyes frequently, making symptoms worse and potentially causing infection.
Perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC), as its name implies, occurs year-round. Symptoms are the same as with SAC, but tend to be milder. They are caused by reactions to dust mites, mold, pet dander or other household allergens, rather than pollen.
Favorite Orgs for Essential Pink Eye Info
American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)
Learn every the fundamentals about pink eye from the professional medical association of ophthalmologists (medical doctors who specialize in eye care).
The site displays some eye-opening photographic and video examples of conjunctivitis, as well as quick home remedies.
American Optometric Association (AOA)
The AOA looks at the essential aspects of pink eye, including causes, diagnosis, and treatment. Because excellent hygiene is one of the best ways to control conjunctivitis, the association instructs readers on best practices to prevent this inflammation.
The College of Optometrists
The College of Optometrists highlights guidelines on the diagnosis and management on a type of conjunctivitis that occurs in newborns within the first month of life.
The cause is a sexually transmitted disease in a parent. The site discusses diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC gives in-depth information about causes, treatments, and the diverse types of this ailment, including viral, bacterial, and allergic conjunctivitis. The site features a fact sheet, a helpful infographic, and a podcast by a pediatrician who specializes in the condition.
A digital extension from the American Academy of Pediatrics, this group answers parents’ health questions regarding children of every ages, including inquiries concerning conjunctivitis.
For example, one of the AAP doctors replies to a query asking “Do I need to hold my son home if he has pink eye?”
National Eye Institute
Part of the National Institutes of Health, this organization lays out the facts about pink eye, telling you how to recognize it, take care of it, and avoid getting it altogether. You can also search for news, events, and latest research on the topic.
This type of allergy primarily affects older patients — mostly men with a history of allergic dermatitis.
Symptoms of atopic keratoconjunctivitis can happen year-round and are similar to those of vernal keratoconjunctivitis:
- Severe itching
- Significant production of thick mucus that, after sleep, may cause the eyelids to stick together
If left untreated, atopic keratoconjunctivitis can result in scarring of the cornea and its delicate membrane.
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis is a more serious eye allergy than SAC or PAC. While it can happen year-round, symptoms may worsen seasonally. It primarily occurs in boys and young men; about 75 percent of patients also own eczema or asthma.
- The feeling of having something in the eye (foreign body sensation)
- Significant tearing and production of thick mucus
- Aversion to light (photophobia)
If left untreated, vernal keratoconjunctivitis can impair vision.
Contact allergic conjunctivitis
This can result from irritation by contact lenses or by the proteins from tears that bind to the surface of the lens. Symptoms include:
- Mucous discharge
- Lens discomfort
Favorite Blogs Related to Pink Eye
Nationwide Children’s Hospital 700 Children’s Blog
This blog gives parents access to the most current pediatric news and research.
A portion of the blog gives parents a guide to pink eye with advice on symptoms and home care.
What are the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?
- Vision is not affected.
- The eyelids tend to swell.
- Both eyes are generally affected and symptoms tend to develop quickly.
- The eyes water more than usual; however, they do not become too gluey or sticky.
- The whites of the eyes glance red or pink.
- The eyes are generally itchy and gritty.
- A burning feeling may happen, although the eyes are not generally painful.
- The skin on the inside of the eyelids looks red and sore.
- In severe cases the conjunctiva under the upper eyelids may swell and glance lumpy.
What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva.
The conjunctiva is the thin ‘skin’ that covers the white part of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. It is made up of layers of specially adapted see-through (transparent) cells.