At certain times of the year, some individuals end up with allergic eye diseases. Many individuals suffer from symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis either all year round or seasonally. The main symptoms include burning, itching, watery and red eyes along with puffiness of the eyelids.
Among individuals who are affected seasonally have symptoms that are part of hay fever. The grass pollen in which an individual is allergic to lands on the eye surface, thus triggering the release of histamine which causes the symptoms. Remember that the part of the eye that one sees when looking at someone is not the affected area. The area that is not seen is usually a large area under the eyelids which is where a reaction typically takes place.
There is slight redness, swelling of the tissues and even minimal bumpiness present in the upper eyelid in allergic conjunctivitis. The lack of symptoms along with the usual seasonal history and symptoms helps distinguish allergic conjunctivitis from other types of inflammation including infection.
What is perennial allergic conjunctivitis?
This allergic eye disease is triggered in the same way but is usually a reaction to animal dander or dust mites in the indoor environment.
Diagnosing allergic eye disease
The allergy tests (skin prick test and blood tests) performed to identify the potential trigger of an allergic reaction are not useful in determining the triggers for allergic conjunctivitis.
It is important to note that aside from seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis, other rare but serious allergy eye diseases can occur. Vernal keratoconjunctivitis occurs in some severely allergic children while adults can end up with atopic keratoconjunctivitis. In both of these conditions, there is corneal involvement that can even threaten the eye sight.
The initial strategy is allergen avoidance, but before the allergens can be avoided, they should be identified. In most cases, the likely triggers can be identified by taking a history from the individual. Many individuals who are allergic react to the common allergens that are difficult to avoid.
The antihistamine eye drop is highly beneficial. Some are readily available in pharmacies while others require a prescription. Oral antihistamines are suitable for many individuals whose eye symptoms coincide with other symptoms of hay fever.
Mast cell stabilizers
These are used in eye drop form for many years. The first that was used is sodium cromoglycate which has been used in the management of allergic eye diseases. Throughout the years, manufacturers produce their own versions of this preparation that can be bought without any prescription. Other mast cell stabilizers that possess both mast cell stabilizing and anti-histaminic properties require a prescription from doctors.
Steroid eye preparations
These are highly effective in allergic eye disease but their unwanted effects can be severe and even slightly threatening. These medications are prescribed by a doctor.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also available in eye drop form but their role in the management of allergic eye disease is not yet fully determined.