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Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin tissue that covers the inner sides of the eyelids and the white part of the eye. This thin tissue, called the conjunctiva, can become inflamed for a number of reasons, one of which is an allergic reaction.
Allergic conjunctivitis is not life threatening. It is more unpleasant than painful and is easily treated, but it should prompt a visit to an allergy doctor for a recommendation on the best course of treatment.
When a person who has an allergy comes in contact with certain substances they trigger an overreaction of the immune system. That reaction is called an allergic reaction and the substances are called allergens. Many different allergens can cause allergic conjunctivitis, including:
After coming in contact with an allergen, the body will start an allergic reaction specific to that allergen. In the case of allergic conjunctivitis, the reaction in the eye is caused by types of cells called mast cells, which release histamines that cause the inflammation, and make the eye tear and itch.
Signs and Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis
Allergic conjunctivitis is characterized by the following symptoms:
These symptoms will most often appear in both eyes if the conjunctivitis is due to an allergic reaction. One eye may be affected more than the other. Conjunctivitis is also commonly called pinkeye because of the color of the white part of the eye may turn red. This is due to widening of the blood vessels in the eye.
The most common symptom is itching, and others include redness, swelling and tearing. Some pain may be present, as can be sensitivity to light and feeling of a foreign object in the eye.
The symptoms are common for most types of conductivities, so it’s important to visit an allergist to determine what exactly caused the inflammation. Treatments vary depending on the cause. If you’re prone to allergic conjunctivitis, you should visit an allergist, who may recommend one of the following treatments:
When dealing with allergic conjunctivitis, the most important thing to do is to remove the allergen. A cold compress is the best first aid treatment, as it soothes and removes some swelling. An allergist may prescribe antihistamine eye-drops, mast cell stabilizing medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in mild to moderate cases. In severe cases, oral anti-histamines or steroids may be introduced as treatment options.