I am sure you have already heard of conjunctivitis as it is a common eye condition.
This may also be referred to as pink eye because as the name suggests, you may have a reddish or pinkish eye when you are suffering from conjunctivitis. It is characterized by the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the tissue that lines your eyelids or the clear membrane that covers the white part of your eye.
However, I am pretty sure that not many of you know that this condition can also be due to allergies. This type is called allergic conjunctivitis. This condition also refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva but more specifically, it is due to allergy-causing substances like dander and pollen.
Here are some important things you need to know about allergic conjunctivitis:
• Allergies are normally hereditary even if there is no scientific explanation as to how they are inherited.
• When your eyes are exposed to objects to which you are allergic, histamine is released which causes your conjunctiva to be swollen. Your eyes will redden and they will become watery and itchy.
• Rubbing your eyes when they have already developed allergic conjunctivitis can exacerbate your symptoms.
Allergic conjunctivitis may be characterized by any of the following symptoms:
• Dilated vessels in your conjunctiva
• Puffy eyelids especially when you wake up in the morning
• Stringy discharge from the eye
• Red or pinkish eyes
• Intense burning or itchy feeling in the eyes
• Excessive tearing or watery eyes.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from allergic conjunctivitis, consult your therapeutic optometrist immediately so he can give you the appropriate treatment. Your optometrist may recommend tests to determine if you have any of the following:
• Presence of allergens that may be causing your symptoms. This can be detected through allergy or positive skin testing.
• Small and raised bumps on the inside part of your eyelids
• Eosinophils or white blood vessels that may be present in secretions, discharge or scrapings.
Prevention, Treatment and Management
Here are some things you need to remember if you want to avoid or to treat your allergic conjunctivitis:
• Avoid exposure to the allergen if you know what it is.
• Apply cool compress on the affected eye to relieve your symptoms. This is best done using a sporting injury gel pack that is stored in the freezer. It needs to wrapped once in a tea towel before molding into the eye sockets for at least 5 minutes.
• Take anti-histamines by mouth. While most of these medications are available over-the-counter, you may want to consult your doctor first to know that you are taking the correct kind and amount of medication.
• Anti-inflammatory or anti-histamine drops may be applied on the affected eye.
• Eye drops may be applied on the affected eye to prevent mast cells, which are white blood cells, from releasing histamine.
• For severe cases, mild eye steroid preparations may be applied directly on the surface of the affected eye. Your therapeutic optometrist is best to prescribe these, as they are not available over the counter.
While this condition can be annoying and can cause extreme discomfort, it is rarely serious, so you have nothing to worry about.
At The Eye Practice Dr Jim Kokkinakis is a qualified therapeutic optometrist, who will be able to easily diagnose the type of conjunctivitis you have before prescribing the appropriate treatment. Call us now on (02) 9290 1899 or BOOK an APPOINTMENT ONLINE.