Allergic Conjunctivitis – The Health Encyclopedia – MBBCH

July 25, 2018 | By | Reply More

What is allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation that occurs in your eyes when irritants gain access to it. The part of the eyes that is inflamed is called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a membrane that covers your eyeballs and eyelids. A membrane is a covering that partitions one part from another. The conjunctiva can easily be irritated by substances particularly during the season of hay fever.

These irritants are called allergens. Examples are pollens, dust, mold spores etc. When you have allergic conjunctivitis, your eyes will become watery, itchy and red. That is a way of your conjunctiva reacting to the allergens it has been exposed to.


Allergic conjunctivitis

Photo Credit: ResearchGate


What are the types of allergic conjunctivitis?

Acute and chronic allergic conjunctivitis!


Acute allergic conjunctivitis

It is common for people to get allergic conjunctivitis during an allergy season.

Acute allergic conjunctivitis is a short-term reaction of your conjunctiva to allergens. This is characterized by a sudden swelling of your eyelids and it is characterized by itchy and burning sensations in the eyes.


Chronic allergic conjunctivitis

It is not as common as acute allergic conjunctivitis.

Chronic allergic conjunctivitis can last for a year. It is triggered by dust, food, and animal dander. Its symptoms are light sensitivity, itchy, and burning eyes. They are recurrent in nature.


What causes allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is developed when your immune system tries to fight what it perceives as a threat to your body. But the body part that gets the brunt of the fight is the conjunctiva hence the term, conjunctivitis. The immune system has a powerful chemical it uses to defend itself. It’s called histamine. Anything that therefore triggers the release of histamine in most cases is an allergen.

The following are common allergens that can induce histamine release by the immune system:

  • animal dander
  • mold spores
  • household dust
  • pollens from grass and trees
  • scents from detergents or perfumes
  • certain eye drops
  • contact lens solution


Who is at risk for allergic conjunctivitis?

Some people rarely have allergies. But for some other persons, they are readily susceptible to them. Allergic conjunctivitis is therefore common to people that easily react to substances.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that 40% of children and 30% of adults in America are often affected by allergies. It is also common for allergies to run in the family.

Allergies have no age barrier but it’s often common amongst the children and adolescents.

If you are prone to allergies, staying in locations with very high pollen grains can increase your probability of having allergic conjunctivitis.


What are the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?

Eyes that are puffy, itchy, red and watery are typical of allergic conjunctivitis. You might also feel a burning sensation in the affected eye.


How is allergic conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Your eyes will be keenly examined by your doctor. Your history will also be taken and evaluated. Your doctor will look for red coloration in the white part of your eyeball. Small bumps will also be examined right in your eyelids.

More tests can be carried out to ascertain the extent of the inflammation. They include:

  • An allergy skin test – your skin will be exposed to certain allergens after which their reactions (usually eye redness and swelling) on you will be examined.
  • A blood test – specific proteins called antibodies, will be assessed in your blood. The antibodies will be present in high concentration in the blood in the presence of an allergen.
  • Conjunctival tissue scraping – tissue from your conjunctiva will be extracted and analyzed for the presence of a special type of white blood cells called eosinophil. Allergens activate eosinophils.


How is allergic conjunctivitis treated?

Many treatment approaches are available for the treatment of conjunctivitis:

Home care

Home care entails the employing of strategic activities aimed at easing your symptoms and minimizing your contact with allergens. These are:

  • Closing your windows when you suspect that pollen count is really high.
  • Keeping your home free of dust as much as you can.
  • Using indoor air purifiers
  • Avoiding contact with harsh perfumes, harsh chemicals, and dyes

Symptoms can be eased by limiting how much you rub your eyes. Also, placing some ice packs over your closed eyelids can drastically reduce itchiness and inflammation.


When home care has failed to ease symptoms of conjunctivitis especially in severe cases, you might have to engage other treatment options. These include:

  • over-the-counter antihistamine – suitable for minimizing or completely preventing histamine release
  • anti-inflammatory eye drops
  • eye drops – they can shrink blood vessels that have become congested
  • steroid eye drops


What is the long-term outlook?

You can experience immense relief with proper care. But when you are exposed to the allergens that make you susceptible to allergic conjunctivitis, you will develop conjunctivitis again.


How do I prevent it?

By a complete avoidance of the factors that predispose to conjunctivitis, you can stop yourself from having it. But is it really possible to completely avoid coming in contact once in a while with these allergens? That is why it is sometimes very difficult to completely prevent. You can minimize the frequency at which you can develop conjunctivitis if you minimize your exposure to the allergens. Minimize your exposure to dust, air purifiers, scented soaps, and detergents.

Category: health

About the Author ()

Ifiokobong Ene, author of this blog is a Medical Physiologist specializing in Cardiovascular and Blood Physiology. He is a freelance health writer and Amazon Kindle author.

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