Allergies are a common and often frustrating condition that affect many people. They can cause a wide range of symptoms, including sneezing, coughing, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system mistakes a harmless substance, such as pollen or pet dander, for a harmful invader and launches an attack against it. This can cause inflammation throughout the body, including in the eyes.
Allergic conjunctivitis is a common type of eye allergy reaction that occurs when the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids, becomes inflamed in response to an allergen. This can cause a range of symptoms, including redness, itching, tearing, and swelling of the eyelids.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is the most common type of allergic conjunctivitis and is typically triggered by seasonal allergens such as pollen, mold spores, or grass. This type of allergy tends to be most severe during the spring and fall seasons when these allergens are most abundant.
Perennial allergic conjunctivitis, on the other hand, is caused by year-round allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, and mold spores. These allergens can be present in the environment all year long, leading to chronic symptoms.
In addition to these types of allergic conjunctivitis, there are other types of eye allergies that can occur, such as contact allergy and vernal conjunctivitis. Contact allergy occurs when the eyes come into contact with an allergen, such as makeup or contact lens solution, while vernal conjunctivitis is a more severe form of allergic conjunctivitis that is typically seen in children and young adults and is often associated with eczema or asthma.
Treatment for allergic conjunctivitis typically involves using allergy eye drops, applying cool compresses to the eyes, taking antihistamines, and reducing contact lens wear. In some cases, prescription medications may be needed to manage more severe symptoms.
It is important to note that if symptoms persist or worsen despite treatment, it may be a sign of a more serious eye condition, and it is important to see one of the eye doctors at Illinois Eye Center for a thorough examination. Some eye conditions, such as uveitis or keratitis, can cause similar symptoms and require prompt medical attention to prevent long-term vision loss.