Allergic Conjunctivitis

What is Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the front of the eyes caused by allergies. There are two types of allergic conjunctivitis: seasonal allergic conjunctivitis and perennial allergic conjunctivitis.

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis: occurs as a result of outdoor environmental triggers, usually in Spring and Summer months (IE. pollen, grass).1

Perennial allergic conjunctivitis: occurs as a result of indoor triggers, such as pet dander and dust.1 Can occur year-round.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Watery eyes/discharge
  • Blurred vision1

What causes Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic response to certain allergens, like pollen, dust, and pet dander. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.

How is Allergic Conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Allergic conjunctivitis is diagnosed upon ophthalmic examination of the front of the eye, as well as, patient symptoms. Oftentimes, the primary symptom of allergic conjunctivitis is itchy eyes. Papillae, small bumps on the inside of the eyelid, appear as a result of an allergic response in the eyes. Allergic conjunctivitis is usually bilateral, meaning it affects both eyes similarly.

How is Allergic Conjunctivitis treated?

Antihistamine drops: Zaditor®, Alaway®, and Pataday® are antihistamine ophthalmic drops that can be purchased over the counter in the United States.

Cold compresses or cold artificial tears: helps relieve itchy eyes. It is recommended to instill artificial tears when using antihistamines, as this drug can cause dryness.

Oral antihistamines: oral medication to treat allergies.1

Allergen immunotherapy: either injections or sub-lingual (under the tongue); decrease sensitivity to the allergen.2

Living with Allergic Conjunctivitis

Due to itching, some patients rub their eyes consistently. Extensive eye rubbing can cause irregularities on the corneal surface and increases the risk of developing keratoconus. Keratoconus is the steepening and thinning of the cornea, which can cause decreased vision.

Preventing allergic conjunctivitis can be very effective in reducing signs and symptoms of this condition:
  • Removing/avoiding allergens3
  • Refraining from touching/rubbing eyes
  • Washing face and hands after exposure to allergen
  • Showering before bedtime
  • Washing sheets often1

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Allergic Conjunctivitis Resources