• Conjunctivitis or irritation of sensitive eyes. Close-up view on red eyes of a man

What is Allergic Conjunctivitis — Causes and Treatment

Aller­gic con­junc­tivi­tis is a type of pink eye (con­junc­tivi­tis) caused by expo­sure to aller­gens. It rarely presents the same dan­gers as viral or bac­te­r­i­al con­junc­tivi­tis

Most cas­es of aller­gic con­junc­tivi­tis are caused by aller­gens that spread eas­i­ly in the air:

  • Dust
  • Pet dan­der
  • Rag­weed
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Pollution/Smog

Some­times, aller­gic con­junc­tivi­tis results from expos­ing the eye to irri­tants like chlo­rine in a pool, or non-hypoal­ler­genic make­up. Con­tacts lens­es and even con­tact lens clean­ing flu­id can also cause an aller­gic reac­tion if they become con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed.

While con­junc­tivi­tis is unpleas­ant, rest assured that the answer to the ques­tion “is aller­gic con­junc­tivi­tis con­ta­gious?” is a sol­id No.

Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis Treatment: Ease Symptoms and Remove Allergens

The symp­toms of aller­gic con­junc­tivi­tis are often uncom­fort­able and can become severe if the patient is exposed to some­thing high­ly irri­tat­ing to him or her. Typ­i­cal symp­toms include:

  • Red or pink col­or­ing in the scle­ra (white part of the eyes)
  • Sore and/or itchy eyes
  • Swollen eye­lids
  • Pain in and around the eyes

Sea­son­al aller­gic con­junc­tivi­tis is gen­er­al­ly trig­gered by sea­son­al aller­gies that can occur at any time of the year. Pollen and rag­weed aller­gies usu­al­ly occur in the spring, sum­mer, and fall. The reac­tions they trig­ger can be treat­ed or even pre­vent­ed with anti­his­t­a­mine med­ica­tions tak­en oral­ly or with aller­gy eye drops, or arti­fi­cial tears.

Some­times these irri­tants can be removed or at least reduced.

  • Dai­ly show­er­ing and fre­quent sham­poo­ing can rid the body and hair of pollen and rag­weed.
  • Wash clothes and bed­sheets more often dur­ing aller­gy sea­son.
  • Dur­ing heavy pollen or rag­weed days, con­sid­er wear­ing glass­es instead of con­tact lens­es. Oth­er­wise, wear sun­glass­es to pro­tect your eyes when you go out­doors and lim­it your time out­side.
    • Pollen is high­est in the mid-morn­ing and ear­ly evening, so avoid being out­doors at those times if pos­si­ble.
  • Keep win­dows and doors closed dur­ing aller­gy sea­son. Pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to vac­u­um­ing and clean­ing near doors, where peo­ple may bring in aller­gens from out­side.

Perennial (Non-Seasonal) Allergic Conjunctivitis Treatment

Not all aller­gies are sea­son­al. Many peo­ple have year-round aller­gies that have noth­ing to do with rag­weed or pollen.

In my opin­ion, an aller­gy to pet dan­der is the most dif­fi­cult to live with because it’s often like being aller­gic to a fam­i­ly mem­ber. Many peo­ple are also aller­gic to dust and dust mites, which tend to accu­mu­late most dur­ing cold­er weath­er when doors and win­dows are kept shut, but can trig­ger reac­tions — includ­ing con­junc­tivi­tis — at any time.

Talk to your physi­cian about aller­gy med­ica­tions that are safe to take on a reg­u­lar basis. You may be pre­scribed oral med­ica­tion and/or eye drops. Here are some oth­er ways to con­trol pet dan­der and dust:

  • Reg­u­lar­ly vac­u­um and damp-dust the home. Use a vac­u­um clean­er with a HEPA fil­ter. Clean or replace it when it becomes clogged.
  • Brush pets reg­u­lar­ly and bathe them every two weeks or so to reduce dan­der and shed­ding with­out harm­ing them. Wash pet bed­ding as well.
  • If you sus­pect your pet “bor­rows” your bed when you aren’t around, be sure to reg­u­lar­ly wash bed cov­ers, pil­low cas­es, and bed sheets.

Mold is anoth­er aller­gen that can strike at any time, even in the clean­est homes. It’s a good idea to have your air con­di­tion­er and heat­ing units cleaned and inspect­ed at least once a year, change fil­ters every two months and more often if you live in an area with mon­soons or dust storms. Use clean­ers with bleach in bath­rooms and kitchens; be sure to wear rub­ber gloves when using these cleansers.

Vis­it our blog to read more about oth­er types of eye con­di­tions and eye care.

February 24th, 2019|Comments Off on What is Allergic Conjunctivitis — Causes and Treatment

About the Author:

Born in Connecticut and raised in Upstate New York , Dr. Stetson graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University in New York, and then earned an MD degree with honors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He distinguished himself again in residency at the Albany Medical Center, where he obtained the highest percentile in the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Examinations. Dr. Stetson has performed more than 50,000 refractive surgeries and has been on staff at Diamond Vision since 2004, before becoming Medical Director in 2006.

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