Persistent or recurring eye irritation symptoms such as red and itchy eyes, watery discharge, swelling or puffiness can disrupt daily activities and stop you from enjoying a high quality life. You might be suffering from allergic conjunctivitis, a common condition affecting adults and children. Here are some effective strategies to reduce symptoms and find relief.
Common Trigger Agents
Conjunctivitis allergy occurs when the body identifies certain substances as threats and tries to defend itself by releasing histamine. Most common trigger agents for allergy associated conjunctivitis include household dust, mold spores, animal dander, pollen and certain chemical scents found in cleaning agents, scents and dyes. This condition can also manifest as a reaction to oral eye medications and contact lens solutions in some people.
Types and Symptoms
Mild symptoms for conjunctivitis allergy include itching, redness and watery discharge from the eye. Severe symptoms include aggravated itching, eye pain, puffiness, crusty eyelids and photophobia (sensitivity to light). While a general practitioner can diagnose and treat mild symptoms, it’s best to consult an ophthalmologist for severe symptoms. There are different types of allergy associated conjunctivitis out of which seasonal and perennial variations are more common and benign. Conditions such as vernal keratoconjunctivitis, atopic keratoconjunctivitis and giant papillary conjunctivitis are rare but more harmful.
Doctor Prescribed Treatment
For diagnosis, your doctor will take into consideration several factors such as the physical condition of your eyes, family medical history, allergy history and individual symptoms. He or she may recommend a skin prick test or a blood test for accurate diagnosis and identification of allergen. Treatment may include one or a combination of ocular medications such as decongestant eye drops, lubricating eye drops, anti-inflammatory eye drops and anti-histamine eye drops. In severe cases, steroid eye-drops may be prescribed which should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Oral medications may be prescribed in aggravated conditions.
Everyday Strategies Adopt
There are several things you can do in your daily life to ease symptoms. If you have seasonal allergic conjunctivitis and experience symptoms at certain times of the year such as pollination season, try to minimize exposure to allergens. Keep doors and windows closed, use an air cleaner and avoid going outdoors on days with high pollen counts. If you must go, protect your eyes with sports goggles or sunglasses. If you experience perennial allergy associated conjunctivitis, your doctor may help you identify the trigger agent and advise you to avoid contact. For example, if your condition is caused due to a chemical scent, use scent-free detergents or soap.
Tips to Ease Distress
As distressing as itchy eyes are, avoid rubbing your eyes as this can worsen your condition. For relief, apply a cool compress to your eyes. Use a saline serum as this helps lubricate eyes and removes allergen particles from the eyes. Keep your eye drop medications in the fridge – you will experience quicker relief from symptoms when you use them. For very complicated cases, an ophthalmologist may recommend surgery but most people don’t need it.