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Allergic Conjunctivitis: Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment


Allergic conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by an allergic reaction in the body. The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and the surface of the eyeball. 

In general, this disease is of two types:

Acute allergic conjunctivitis: This is a short-term inflammation that begins during allergy season. During this period, the eyelids suddenly swell, itch and bake. Similar symptoms occur with the nose. In addition to edema and redness, “water” literally flows from it.   

Chronic allergic conjunctivitis: Continues for a year. The disease is caused by allergens such as food, dust, animal hair. Symptoms are much milder. There are periods when they disappear altogether. But, as a rule, the patient is worried about burning, itchy eyes and sensitivity to light. 

If you look in more detail, you can add several more types of conjunctivitis. Namely:

Contact conjunctivitis

Also known as dermoconjunctivitis . Symptoms are usually caused by cosmetics or eye drops that irritate the conjunctiva. Contact with these substances in sensitive people causes an allergic reaction. Symptoms may appear 2-4 days after contact with the allergen.

Giant papillary conjunctivitis

Occurs in people who wear contact lenses. Sometimes they cause discomfort and redness of the eyes.

This type of conjunctivitis occurs when a person uses hard lenses after eye surgery.

Poor hygiene when using contact lenses, solutions and case can also provoke the disease.

Year-round conjunctivitis

Lasts throughout the year. The disease is associated with an allergy to house dust mites. These are microscopic insect – like organisms that live in beds, upholstered furniture and carpets.

Dust mites eat up human skin cells and love warm, humid environments.

A dust mite allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a corresponding arthropod protein. It causes a number of problems, including conjunctivitis, nasal congestion, sneezing, and a narrowing of the airways like in asthma.

Other causes of year-round conjunctivitis include animal dander, small scales on their skin or fur, and bird feathers.


Symptoms are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to familiar things. It is she who makes the body secrete histamine and other active substances from mast cells. In this case, the vessels dilate, irritate the nerve endings, and as a result, eye inflammation and lacrimation occur.

Allergens that provoke this disease

The list of allergens that cause a similar reaction includes:

  • household dust;
  • pollen of trees and grasses;
  • spores and mycelium of fungi (mold);
  • dandruff of animals;
  • household chemicals and perfumes.

In some people, allergic conjunctivitis is caused by medications, contact lens solution, or eye drops.


In people who have any type of allergy. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the disease affects 30% of adults and 40% of children. As a rule, it is a “family disease” 

You can get allergies at any age. But most often it affects children and young people. Especially those who are sensitive to pollen and live in areas with high pollen content.


May appear immediately after eye contact with an allergen. But they can appear in 2-4 days.

You should contact your doctor if you have the following signs of illness:

Red or pink eyes: Irritation occurs due to dilated capillaries or small blood vessels in the conjunctiva.  

Pain: It can appear in one or both eyes. If a person has pain, redness, and sensitivity to light, treatment should be started immediately. 

Itching: When irritated, the eyes begin to itch a lot. Try not to rub them at this time, because this will only aggravate the symptoms. 

Swelling of the eyelids: This can happen when there is inflammation of the conjunctiva or when the patient constantly rubs his eyes.  

Burning sensation: it is caused by painful sensations in the entire area of ​​the eye. People with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis experience symptoms at the appropriate time of the year. Typically from early spring to summer or even fall. 

If the eyelids are red, cracked, or dry, it could be a sign of contact or giant papillary conjunctivitis. They do not depend on the season and can appear at any time of the year.


It takes place under the supervision of a doctor. The main sign of conjunctivitis is reddening of the whites of the eyes and the presence of small bumps on the eyelids.

When they appear, the doctor should order one of the following tests:

Skin patch test. It is carried out as follows: samples of specific allergens are superimposed on the back. At the site of the causal attachment – there is redness and swelling. 

Analysis of blood. It is done in order to determine the amount of antibodies that the body produces to protect itself from allergens.  

A scraping of the conjunctival tissue can be taken to examine the level of leukocytes – white blood cells that are activated by inflammation. 


There are many treatments for allergic conjunctivitis.

Home care

Home treatment of this disease involves a combination of preventive measures and methods aimed at relieving symptoms.

To minimize exposure to allergens, follow these guidelines:

Close windows when pollen counts are high;

Do a wet mop daily and use an air purifier;

Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, paints and perfumes.

Instead of rubbing your eyes, apply a cool compress to them.


In more complex cases, home care may be scarce.

In this case, you should contact an allergist, who is likely to recommend the following treatments:

oral antihistamines, which will decrease the level of histamine in the body;

anti-inflammatory drops or drops to narrow blood vessels;

steroid eye drops.

It is almost impossible to completely avoid the environmental factors that cause allergic conjunctivitis. But if you wish, you can minimize the effect of its main triggers.

For example, if you are allergic to fragrances, use odorless detergents. If you are allergic to household dust, install an air purifier.

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