Diseases And Conditions: What Is Allergic Conjunctivitis?

What is allergic conjunctivitis? How do we get it?

The transparent membrane covering the sclera (the white of the eye) and lining the inside of the eyelid is known as the conjunctiva. Itching, swelling, burning, light sensitivity, tearing with watery discharge, crusting and scaling of the eyelids, are all symptoms of conjunctivitis,

which is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. There are many causes, including pollen, foods, eyedrops, chemicals, cosmetics, shampoo or pets. Sometimes it can be acute, and/or it might be seasonal.

Any substance we are allergic to""called an allergen""causes mast cells in our body to release histamines to the affected tissues. This histamine causes swelling and dilation of the blood vessels in tissue, which lead

to all the symptoms of allergy: swelling, itching and redness.

Since the allergic response is created by histamine, the way to treat it is to block its release before symptoms occur. This is generally done by antihistamines, which block either the action of histamine after it is released, or block the actual release of histamine.

Allergy sufferers who wear contact lenses can experience higher incidences of allergic conjunctivitis during the allergy season, although in some situations chafing of the conjunctiva by the edge of the lens can be mistaken for an allergic reaction. If it is an allergy, it could be a reaction to the combination of your contact lenses and

topical medication. In addition, pollen can stick to the lens, worsening the situation. Sometimes, a semirigid gas-permeable lens will help because it doesn't pick up as much pollen. Otherwise, the best treatment is not to wear contacts during the allergy season.

For many people, no treatment is necessary; the condition simply goes away. For others, over-the-counter antihistamines or vasoconstrictors provide relief. Sometimes after these drugs wear off, the redness

returns, but these medications do play an important role in managing seasonal allergies. Over-the-counter lubricant eyedrops also can reduce the itching and redness. If you experience the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis and use these medications without success, consult your physician. There are a number of prescription medications that can be

the next level of treatment.

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