- Most allergic eye conditions are more irritating than dangerous.
- Allergic or vernal keratoconjunctivitis may result in scarring of the cornea and visual problems.
- Itchy eyes are probably allergic eyes.
- Topical antihistamine/decongestant preparations are effective and safe for mildly itchy, red eyes.
- Topical mast-cell stabilizer, are safe, highly effective, long-acting treatment.
- Topical steroids should be used with caution and under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.
- If in doubt, seek medical advice sooner rather than later.
Eye allergy introduction
Severe allergic eye symptoms can be very distressing and are a common reasons for visits to the GP, ophthalmologist, and even the A&E department. Occasionally, severe eye allergies cause serious damage that can threaten eyesight.
What causes eye allergies?
Allergic eye disease has associations with:
Attacks maybe triggered by medications and cosmetics. Reactions to eye irritants and other eye conditions (for example, infections) are often confused with eye allergy. Any kind of irritant, whether environmental, infectious, or manmade, can cause symptoms consistent with eye allergies.
Many people suffer the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, either seasonally (seasonal allergic conjunctivitis) or all year round (perennial allergic conjunctivitis).
The main symptoms are itching, burning, watering and redness of the eye, and puffiness of the eyelids.
The main areas of the eye affected are seen under the upper eyelid in allergic conjunctivitis with slight redness, slight swelling (oedema) of the tissues, and perhaps a little bumpiness (papillary hyperplasia). This relative lack of signs, coupled with the typical seasonal history and symptoms, is what helps to distinguish allergic conjunctivitis from other forms of inflammation, including infection.
Perennial allergic conjunctivitis is caused in the same way, but is usually a reaction to house dust mite or pets in the indoor environment, rather than to seasonal pollens. In other countries the same condition is caused by different environmental factors. This is an IGE mediated reaction.
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC), which occurs in some severely allergic children, and the adult equivalent, atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is troublesome. In both of these conditions, there is usually corneal involvement, which affects, and may even threaten, the sight of the eye, and only the ophthalmologist (eye specialist) is fully equipped to manage them. Some contact lens wearers suffer from a condition (giant papillary conjunctivitis, GPC), which is similar to VKC and AKC, but does not involve the cornea.
Management of allergic eye disease
- Avoid allergens such as pollen, mite.
- Try antihistamine eyes drops
- Try Mast cell stabilisers
- Steroid eye drops are very effective, but should only be prescribed by your doctor and effects monitored by the GP.
If you have been affected by any of the symptoms mentioned above, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
We have a team of experts on stand-by who are ready to take your call at our Manchester (0161 907 2685) Clinic or our Blackpool (01253 308 031) Clinic.