Allergic Conjunctivitis

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Definition

Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. This is the tissue lining the eyelids and covering the whites of the eye. The tissues of a normal eye will be without swelling and have a generally white eyeball. When someone has allergic conjunctivitis the lids are swollen and angry looking and the whites of the eye are red and bloodshot. 

Symptoms

In most cases of conjunctivitis, no matter what the cause, people will experience: blurred vision, itching, running tearing eyes, swelling, irritation and pain.
There are bacterial causes of conjunctivitis, this is usually seen in children and often called “pink eye”. Since a bacterial agent is causing the problem antibiotic salve is the usual treatment. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, unlike pink eye, which is. It is important to determine whether the cause is allergies, bacteria or virus’s to insure proper treatment in allergic conjunctivitis the cause is airborne allergens creating a histamine reaction in the eye area. Treatment varies depending on the causes. We are focusing on allergic conjunctivitis in this article.

Symptom relief

There are ways to relieve symptoms without actually treating the causes. If you wear contact lenses remove them. Better still, check to make sure you are not allergic or sensitive to your contact lens solutions; this can be a very common cause of allergic conjunctivitis. Use cold compresses to relieve swelling in and around the eyes. Used tea bags and sliced cucumbers make excellent cold compresses and are very soothing to sore eyes. If you are not allergic to the ingredients, eye drops with artificial tears can be soothing.

Treatment

Because allergies are the cause of this conjunctivitis, the foremost line of treatment is to identify the allergen, then remove or treat the allergy. Allergies to dust, pollen, smoke, fumes, perfumes and other airborne particles are most likely to be the cause of conjunctivitis. Avoidance of known irritants and allergens is a good way to avoid conjunctivitis. In addition contaminated eye and makeup products can be causative factors as can allergies to the makeup itself.
Frequently allergies can be treated with antihistamines which will reduce the body’s reaction to allergens and diminish the conjunctivitis. There are topical medications that are placed directly in the eyes or oral medication for systemic relief from allergic symptoms. Decongestants can be used to clear up the redness but these really only mask symptoms and is not good to use for long periods of time. Allergies can also be treated with immunotherapy which is a systematic routine of shots to desensitize the patient to their allergens. 

There are ways to avoid allergic conjunctivitis. It is a good idea to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes and face. Wear your contact lenses only as prescribed, do not leave them in longer than advised and make sure to clean them regularly. Wash all your pillowcases and sheets in hot water, and hypoallergenic detergent, this reduces allergens contact. Take your showers and wash your hair before going to bed, this removes allergens from your body and you get less on your sheets.

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