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Treatment Options for Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis may be caused by a number of different […]

By Published On: 10 December 20122.7 min read

Allergic conjunctivitis may be caused by a number of different things.  Usually, some self help techniques can bring relief to this condition. Among these are:

•    Do not expose yourself to the cause of the allergy.
•    Do not rub your eyes. This will just worsen the condition.
•    Place something cool over your eyes. You can use a cold compress or you can soak a flannel in cold water.
•    Replace your contact lens. Remove and avoid wearing them until all the signs and symptoms are gone. Discard your old lens as well to avoid re-infection.

This condition may be classified into four main types. These are:

•    Contact dermatoconjunctivitis – allergy to cosmetics or eye drops.
•    Giant papillary conjunctivitis – allergy to contact lens.
•    Perennial conjunctivitis – allergy to dust mites or pets.

•    Season conjunctivitis – allergy to pollen.

Simply refraining from using cosmetics, eye drops or contact lens will treat the first two types. For the latter two, there are various treatment options. Among the options are:


Antihistamines are used as a quick remedy for allergic conjunctivitis.  It hinders the action of histamine, a chemical that the body releases when under attack by an allergen. The antihistamine will prevent the symptoms of the allergy.

Antihistamine may be taken orally or through eye drops. Oral antihistamines, like cetirizine, fexofenadine or loratadine, should be taken once a day. These cannot be prescribed to pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers, however.

Antihistamine eye drops include antazoline, azelastine, emedastine and ketotifen, although only antazoline can be bought over the counter. You should always strictly follow the instructions of both the manufacturer and your doctor regarding the suitability of the product. Some eye drops may not be suitable for young children, while others are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Antihistamines have a sedating effect, which can be made more pronounced when taken with alcohol.

Mast Cell Stabilizers

Mast cell stabilizers are prescription medicine in the form of eye drops. The most common of them are lodoxamide, nedocromil sodium and sodium cromoglicate. This is an alternative that can control the symptoms of your conjunctivitis over a longer period of time.   As it cannot provide fast and immediate relief to your symptoms, your doctor can also prescribe antihistamines at the same time.


The optometrist will only recommend corticosteroids when the condition becomes significant. Only a short course of topical corticosteroids (eye drops) is prescribed.  Occasionally allergic conjunctivitis will be so severe that a short course of oral corticosteroids will be required.

Other Cases

If the conjunctivitis is a result of a recent eye surgery, consult an eye doctor immediately. Your eyes must be checked and monitored so that the best possible treatment can be applied.

If the condition is a result of exposure to a harmful substance or chemical like acid or bleach, proceed to the hospital immediately. Cases such as these are medical emergencies. You may need to be admitted to the hospital so that the harmful substance can be washed out off your eyes with a saline solution.

It is important to note that conjunctivitis (red eye or pink eye) can have many causes.  At The Eye Practice, Dr Jim Kokkinakis is therapeutically qualified to treat most forms of red eyes.  Call us now on (02) 9290 1899 or BOOK an APPOINTMENT ONLINE.


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