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Allergic Conjunctivitis

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Data last updated: 04/23/2024

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Allergic Conjunctivitis Treatment in Charlotte

Allergic conjunctivitis can be a frustrating and inconvenient condition for many individuals, especially during seasons when the pollen count is high but the weather is beautiful and you want to get outside and enjoy it. At Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center, we understand the impact that allergic conjunctivitis can have on your lifestyle and well-being, and we are committed to providing comprehensive care to help manage and treat this condition.

Our team of board-certified allergists and experienced healthcare professionals is dedicated to providing personalized treatment plans and ongoing support to help you live your life to the fullest. Whether you are seeking a diagnosis, treatment, or ongoing management of your allergic conjunctivitis so you can find relief from your symptoms, we are here to help you every step of the way.

How to Request an Appointment

At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, we offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment for allergic conjunctivitis. If you suspect you may have allergic conjunctivitis or have experienced seasonal symptoms that specifically affect the eyes, you can request an appointment with our team of board-certified allergists and experienced healthcare professionals.

To schedule an appointment, you can call our office or fill out the online appointment request form on our website. Our friendly staff will work with you to find a convenient date and time for your visit.

During your appointment, our allergists will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and conduct any necessary tests to determine if you have allergic conjunctivitis. Based on your evaluation, our team will develop a personalized treatment plan to help manage your symptoms and prevent future allergic reactions, especially during seasons when pollen and other allergens are at their highest.

What is Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Often referred to as pink eye, conjunctivitis is an eye inflammation that affects a thin, protective membrane of the eye called the conjunctiva. Many people are familiar with bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, which are very contagious infections that cause symptoms like redness, burning, itchiness, and swollen eyelids.

However, few know that similar symptoms can be caused by a sensitivity to pollen, dust mites, animals, and mold spores. This type of inflammation is called allergic conjunctivitis and, unlike bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, it isn’t contagious. In fact, allergic conjunctivitis is a fairly common condition that affects 40% of the population.

Types of Allergic Conjunctivitis

There are three main types of allergic conjunctivitis, which are mostly based on how serious the symptoms are. 

Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis

Acute allergic conjunctivitis comes on suddenly after a person has been exposed to an allergen like dog dander or mold. Though symptoms can be severe, they normally go away within 24 hours. 

Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC)

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis causes persistent symptoms during a particular pollen season. Depending on where you live, you may experience a reaction to tree pollens in the spring, grass pollens in the summer, and weed pollens in late summer and fall. 

Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis (PAC)

Perennial allergic conjunctivitis is a chronic eye condition typically caused by indoor allergens like food, dust, and dander. 

What are the Symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis often causes redness, watery discharge, and burning and itching of both eyes. Other symptoms can include sensitivity to light and swelling of the eyelids. The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are very similar to bacterial and viral pink eye. However, there are important distinctions.

Since viral pink eye is caused by an infection that spreads from the nose, eye symptoms are typically accompanied by an upper respiratory infection or cold. Comparatively, bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by the same bacteria that cause strep and staph infections, like Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. A telltale sign of bacterial pink eye is thick, yellow-green discharge. 

Causes & Risk Factors for Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is a reaction that occurs when an allergen like pollen comes in contact with your eye. Your body perceives the allergen as a threat and produces chemicals called histamines to protect you. This immune response causes redness, itchiness, and other symptoms. 

Besides tree and grass pollen, allergic conjunctivitis can also be triggered by:

  • Household dust and dirt
  • Cosmetics and soaps
  • Mold spores
  • Smoke and fumes
  • Chemicals (chlorine, household cleaners, perfumes)

People with a history of other allergic conditions such as eczema, seasonal allergies, or a specific allergy are more likely to develop allergic conjunctivitis. This condition is also more likely to develop when pollen counts are high.

How is Allergic Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?

Doctors recognize allergic conjunctivitis by its typical symptoms and appearance. If you are suffering from allergic pink eye, an eye examination will likely reveal redness in the white of your eye and small bumps inside your eyelids. An eye examination will also help your doctor rule out bacterial and viral conjunctivitis. 

There is no specific diagnostic tool for this condition. However, after reviewing your allergy history, your doctor may need to learn more about what is causing your symptoms. To do so, they may order one of the following tests:

  • An allergy skin test, which lightly punctures an allergen into the skin’s surface and allows your doctor to monitor your skin for a reaction such as swelling or redness
  • A blood test, which detects the presence of antibodies that fight specific allergens 

Allergic Conjunctivitis Treatment in Charlotte

There are various ways to treat the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, including preventative home precautions and medications that your doctor may prescribe. 

Home Care

In most cases, allergic conjunctivitis can be addressed at home. To alleviate itchiness, apply a cold compress to your eyes. You may also use artificial tears or antihistamine drops. You must avoid rubbing your eyes as this can make symptoms worse. 

Allergic conjunctivitis symptoms typically go away once you are no longer exposed to the allergen. To limit exposure, you may consider:

  • Keeping windows closed during peak allergy season
  • Using an air purifier and vacuum with an allergy and asthma-friendly filter
  • Purchasing allergen covers for pillows, duvets, and comforters
  • Keeping pets out of the bedroom
  • Wearing sunglasses to keep allergens out of your eyes

An allergist can determine which allergens are causing your allergic conjunctivitis. This will help you create an appropriate action plan. If, for instance, your allergic conjunctivitis is triggered by ragweed pollen, you may close your windows during the fall. Or, if your condition is triggered by a certain household cleaner, you may stop using that chemical.

Medications

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to visit a doctor. Your doctor will likely recommend: 

  • Antihistamine eye drops to reduce itchiness
  • Vasoconstrictor eye drops to shrink congested blood vessels  
  • Steroid eye drops to mitigate severe allergic reactions 
  • Oral antihistamines 
  • Allergy shots 

Many of these medications can be purchased over-the-counter. However, some require a prescription. 

Summary

At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, we are dedicated to providing compassionate care and ongoing support to help you live your life to the fullest. Contact us today to request an appointment and take the first step towards managing your allergic conjunctivitis. 

Allergic Conjunctivitis FAQs

Is allergic conjunctivitis serious?

In most cases, allergic conjunctivitis is not serious. The condition typically resolves itself without specific treatment when contact with the allergen has been minimized. However, if you are experiencing symptoms like intense eye pain, extreme redness, severe sensitivity to light, or difficulty seeing, you should consult a doctor immediately. In rare cases, allergic conjunctivitis can damage a person’s vision if left untreated. 

How long does allergic conjunctivitis last?

Allergic conjunctivitis will normally clear up once the irritant is reduced. That means as long as you are exposed to an allergen like pet dander or ragweed, you will continue experiencing symptoms. Over-the-counter or prescription medications can lessen irritation, making you more comfortable during peak allergy seasons. An allergist can also create a systematic treatment program to help you avoid future symptoms. 

Is allergic conjunctivitis contagious?

No—unlike bacterial or viral pink eye, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. 

Pollen and Mold Levels

Pollen counts are updated daily from February 15 to November 15.
Last updated: October 30, 2023
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