What Causes Eye Allergies
Eye allergies are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens that get into your eyes. Examples of these are pollen, mold spores, dust mites and pet dander. Eye allergies are not contagious. They cannot be spread to another person.
Irritants like dirt, smoke, chemicals, and chlorine can also cause swelling and redness of the eyes. This reaction is not an allergic reaction. Viruses and bacteria can also cause the same irritation of the eyes. This reaction is also not an allergic reaction. Some medications and cosmetics can also cause eye allergy symptoms.
The eyes are an easy target for allergens and irritants because they are exposed and sensitive. The body responds to these allergens by releasing chemicals, including histamines, which produce the inflammation.
Pink eye is something different. It is a viral or bacterial infection of the eye tissue. Its called infectious conjunctivitis. It usually starts in one eye and can spread easily to the other eye within a day or two. This eye condition is easily transmitted from person to person. But it is usually not a serious health risk if diagnosed right away.
How Is Allergic Conjunctivitis Treated
Oftentimes with allergy symptoms, the best course of action is to simply avoid whatever triggers an allergic reactionfor instance, if you’re allergic to cats and you know your friend has a cat, suggest a meeting place outside their home so you don’t risk having an allergic reaction to their pet. The same goes for allergic conjunctivitis, Kanwaljit Brar, MD, an allergist at NYU Langone, tells Health. “The best approach is to be preventative,” Dr. Brar explains.
Experts advise making an appointment with an allergist if you find that you frequently suffer from allergic conjunctivitisif your eyelids start swelling and your eyes start watering at seemingly random timesand you have no clue what your allergen is. “If you see an allergist, you can identify what you’re allergic to we can predict when patients’ symptoms will ,” says Dr. Brar.
From there, an allergist can help you make simple lifestyle changes that eliminate allergic conjunctivitis and other allergy-related issues, says Dr. Hajee. So if your allergist tests you and determines that pollen is likely what’s triggering your symptoms, they can advise you to stay inside during certain times of the day when the pollen count in your region is highest, says Dr. Brar. By tweaking your routine by, say, going on your outdoor run at a different time when the pollen count is typically lower, your symptoms might lessen without the use of medication.
How To Distinguish Between Allergies And Pink Eye
One of the most important things to consider while distinguishing between pink eye and allergies is the ongoing season. A change of season or a dry and polluted atmosphere is more likely to be responsible for allergic conjunctivitis.
Suppose you are aware of your allergies or food intolerances. In that case, any exposure to an allergen or irritant before the development of pink eye could help you conclude a diagnosis for your eye irritation. However, if you are an outgoing person, who has previously been to a crowded public place, your workplace, or your school and have interacted with someone suffering from pink eye, you are more likely to have developed the bacterial or viral form of pink eye.
Allergies do not often show severe symptoms and go away in a shorter period than the pink eye that is caused by other factors. In both adults and children, bacterial or viral pink eye can give rise to severe symptoms if not treated effectively. It may cause inflammation in the cornea of the eye, thereby affecting vision. A constant feeling of having something stuck in your eye, light sensitivity, and blurred vision are common viral or bacterial pink eye symptoms.
We recommend visiting the doctor to arrive at the correct diagnosis for your condition. While we can only guess on our condition at best, a doctor will concur an accurate diagnosis according to the protocol, making it more reliable.
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How Long Will It Take For My Pink Eye To Heal
The type of pink eye you have will affect how long it takes to heal.
Viral pink eye, the most common type, usually gets better in 1 to 2 weeks without medicine. Sometimes, it can take 3 weeks or more to heal. Remember, antibiotics dont help viral pink eye.
Bacterial pink eye usually gets better in 2 to 5 days, but it can take 2 weeks or more to go away completely. Antibiotics can speed up the healing time, but they arent always needed. If you have bacterial pink eye, ask your doctor if they recommend antibiotics for you.
If you have pink eye caused by an allergen or irritant, try to avoid the allergen or irritant. Allergy medicine and some eye drops may also help.
Home Remedies For Allergic And Chemical Conjunctivitis
Both allergic pink eye and chemical conjunctivitis , can both be treated at home.
Chemical conjunctivitis can often be treated at home by flushing the eyes frequently with a sterile saline solution until the irritation is gone.
Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated at home with the following:
Avoiding or removing allergens
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What Is Allergic Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is linked to your environment rather than an infection. Spring, summer, and fall eye allergies tend to be caused by trees, weed, grass, and flower pollen. Some people can have eye allergies all year round from dust, mold, and animal dander.
Symptoms vary from mild to severe, including:
How Is Pinkeye Treated
Pinkeye caused by a virus usually goes away without any treatment. Pinkeye caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
It can be hard to get kids to tolerate eye drops several times a day. If you’re having trouble, put the drops on the inner corner of your child’s closed eye when your child opens the eye, the medicine will flow into it. If you still have trouble with drops, ask the doctor about antibiotic ointment, which can be placed in a thin layer where the eyelids meet, and will melt and enter the eye.
If your child has allergic conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe anti-allergy medicine, either as pills, liquid, or eye drops.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
If the pinkeye does not improve after 2 to 3 days of treatment, or after a week if untreated, call your doctor.
If your child has increased swelling, redness, and tenderness in the eyelids and around the eye, along with a fever, call your doctor. Those symptoms may mean the infection has started to spread beyond the conjunctiva and will need more treatment.
Different Types Of Conjunctivitis
There are two different types of infectious conjunctivitis: Bacterial and viral.
1) Bacterial conjunctivitis is a highly contagious, bacterial eye infection that can affect one or both eyes. In many cases, it starts out in one eye and then spreads to the other eye.
Bacterial conjunctivitis affects around 135 in 10,000 Americans annually.
Common symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis include:
- Pink or red eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Eyelids that are stuck together upon waking
If your child has bacterial conjunctivitis, an antibiotic eye drop, ointment, or oral medication will be prescribed to eliminate the bacteria.
Symptoms should subside within a couple of days after treatment, but your child could still be contagious for up to two weeks.
2) Viral conjunctivitis is a highly contagious, viral eye infection that generally affects both eyes, and often accompanies a cold, sore throat, or fever.
Viral conjunctivitis is the most common form of pink eye.
Common symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include:
- Pink eyes
- Watery discharge
If your child has viral conjunctivitis, symptoms usually subside within a week to 10 days.
Although there is no medication to treat viral pink eye, you can help to relieve uncomfortable symptoms by applying warm or cold wet compresses to your childs eyes. Artificial tears eye drops may also help to alleviate some of the discomfort.
If you suspect your child has an eye infection, contact an eye doctor near you who can diagnose and treat the condition.
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How To Get Rid Of Pink Eye Fast
You wake up in the morning and open your eyes at least you try to. One eye seems to be stuck shut, and the other feels like its rubbing against sandpaper. Youve got pink eye. But you also have a life and need to feel better fast.
Keep reading for a fast-acting pink eye treatment plan, plus ways to keep others from getting it.
Allergic Conjunctivitis In Babies And Children
The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis listed above, as well as the treatment methods, are largely the same in children, toddlers and infants. It is advisable to see a doctor to confirm a diagnosis of allergic conjunctivitis and determine the best treatment approach for a child.
If a newborn baby shows signs of conjunctivitis, it is important to consult a doctor without delay to identify the cause and receive appropriate treatment. Babies sometimes develop strains of viral conjunctivitis or bacterial conjunctivitis that can be very serious if left untreated.
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How Can I Prevent Spreading The Pink Eye Infection
If you or your child has bacterial or viral pink eye, your healthcare provider may recommend staying home from work, school or daycare until you are no longer contagious. Check with your doctor to find out how long that may be. Typically, youre less likely to spread the infection if youve been on antibiotics for 24 hours or no longer have symptoms.
Following good general hygiene and eye care practices can also help prevent the spread of pink eye. These practices include:
- Dont touch or rub the infected eye.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Wash any discharge from your eyes twice a day using a fresh cotton ball. Afterwards, discard the cotton ball and wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Wash your hands after applying eye drops or ointment to your eye or your childs eye.
- Dont share personal items such as makeup, contact lenses, towels or cups.
Diagnosis Of Allergic Conjunctivitis
When symptoms are mild, a diagnosis of allergic conjunctivitis can often be made without seeing a doctor, and the condition can be treated at home. However, if there is any uncertainty or concern over the eye condition or the symptoms are severe, seeing a doctor is very important.
A doctor will take the personâs medical history and ask whether they have any allergies. They will examine the eyes and assess the signs and symptoms present, taking care to rule out acute viral conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis, dry eye syndrome and other more serious eye conditions, such as uveitis and keratitis.
In most cases, it will not be necessary to perform any special tests. However, in some cases a doctor will order allergy tests, e.g. skin patch tests, to identify allergens and confirm the diagnosis.
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Boric Acid In Children
Borax and boric corrosive are great home solutions for conjunctivitis because of the solid hostile to microbial, against viral and mitigating qualities.
Direction: Whats more, theyre additionally highly inexpensive to purchase! Either blend ½ a teaspoon of boric corrosive or ¼ teaspoon of borax in a glass of warm sifted water. Clean the affected area with this solution.
Note: Use a cotton ball to wash and clean the areas affected by pink eye.
Can Pinkeye Be Prevented
Infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so teach kids to wash their hands well and often with warm water and soap. They also should not share eye drops, tissues, eye makeup, washcloths, towels, or pillowcases.
Be sure to wash your own hands well after touching an infected child’s eyes, and throw away items like gauze or cotton balls after they’ve been used. Wash towels and other linens that the child has used in hot water separately from the rest of the family’s laundry to avoid contamination.
If you know your child is prone to allergic conjunctivitis, keep windows and doors closed on days when the pollen is heavy, and dust and vacuum often to limit allergy triggers. Irritant conjunctivitis can only be prevented by avoiding the irritating causes.
Screening and treating pregnant women for STDs can prevent many cases of pinkeye in newborns. A pregnant woman may have bacteria in her birth canal even if she shows no symptoms, which is why prenatal screening is important.
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What To Do When Allergies Or Infections Strike
Even if you fight the good fight, you may still sometimes need relief from itchy, watery eyes. Depending on your diagnosis, here are treatments that can help.
For allergies: Topical medications are usually better than general allergy remedies for treating eye allergies. Many allergy eye drops are extremely successful in treating symptoms. Some actually work to prevent symptoms by preventing the allergic reaction from getting started.
Your doctor may suggest short-term medications to help control inflammation, such as steroid or anti-inflammatory eye drops. Over-the-counter artificial tears also can help keep eyes moistened and flush out allergens.
For infections: Viral infections generally clear up on their own, but cold compresses and lubricating eye drops can minimize symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops to treat a bacterial eye infection.
For eye infections caused by fungi and parasites, the medication will depend on whats causing the problem. Your eye doctor can help sort that out.
Getting quick diagnosis and treatment is the key when you have irritated eyes. No matter whats causing the problem, your eye doctor can help you find the right treatment and the relief you need.
Complications Of Allergic Conjunctivitis
While they may cause discomfort in daily life, most cases of seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis clear up completely, and complications are rare.
However, in severe cases of contact conjunctivitis and giant papillary conjunctivitis, a person may develop inflammation, ulcers and scarring on the cornea, the front of their eye. This is called keratitis and requires urgent medical treatment to prevent long-term damage to vision.
Severe cases of vernal keratoconjunctivitis and atopic keratoconjunctivitis can also cause long-term damage to the eyes if left untreated.
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Conjunctivitis Vs Other Eye Infections
Eye allergies and conjunctivitis also cause many of the same symptoms as several other eye infections. For example, allergic conjunctivitis and pink eye can look and feel nearly identical to uveitis and keratitis. They can also mimic the symptoms of blepharitis and a blocked tear duct.
If left untreated, bacterial conjunctivitis and some of the other infection types can be serious and even lead to vision loss.
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider If I Or My Child Has Pink Eye
- An increase in sensitivity to light, especially if its severe.
- Blurred vision or decrease in vision.
- Eye pain.
- Feeling like there is something stuck in your eye.
- Large amount of discharge from eyes.
- Worsening symptoms.
Herpes, one of many possible causes of pink eye, is a serious infection. If not treated, vision loss and scarring of the eye are possible.
Most cases of pink eye are not associated with worrisome effects. However, these symptoms can be a sign of a serious problem, such as an ulcer, which can result in permanent vision loss. Never hesitate to call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns. Its always better to be safe than sorry.
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Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis Or Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis
Pollen is the most common allergen to cause conjunctivitis in countries that have cold winters.
If conjunctivitis results from pollen, there will likely be other symptoms, including sneezing, an itchy, blocked, or runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is also known as hay fever.
It usually happens during the spring and summer months. At this time, plants, and especially grass, trees, and flowers, are in pollen. Some people have symptoms during early fall.
How Is Pinkeye Diagnosed
If you think your child has pinkeye, it’s important to see your health care provider to learn what’s causing it and how to treat it. Other serious eye conditions can have similar symptoms, so a child who complains of severe pain, changes in eyesight, swelling around the eyes, or sensitivity to light should be examined.
If you can’t get an in-person visit, you might be able to do a “video visit” instead. Telehealth when patients and health care providers use technology for the remote diagnosis and treatment of some health conditions is becoming more and more popular. Ask your health care provider if his or her practice participates in telemedicine, and check with your insurance provider to see if this option is covered.
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Eye Symptoms And Anaphylaxis
An allergic reaction to a food, insect sting or bite, or medication may cause eye symptoms with swelling, itching and redness of the conjunctiva and soft tissues around the eyes. Individuals who are at risk of anaphylaxis should be referred to a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.
Eating of foods containing monosodium glutamate or the preservative sodium metabisulfite will occasionallycause swelling and redness of the eye. However this is not a true allergic reaction and therefore symptoms will be less severe.
ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand.
ASCIA resources are based on published literature and expert review, however, they are not intended to replace medical advice. The content of ASCIA resources is not influenced by any commercial organisations.
For more information go to www.allergy.org.au
To donate to immunology/allergy research go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au