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Red Eye: 7 Common Eye Allergies

Lt. Col. (R) Dr. Shahzad Saeed

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Ocular allergies, like their nasal kin, are the result of an immune system misfire; in which it identifies harmless substances-like pollen-as ‘allergen’, and produces antibodies which prompt the release of inflammation inducing ‘histamine’. Blood vessels are burst, and the eyes are now referred to as allergic. i.e. swollen, red and watery. Some of the most common eye allergies are:

1- Seasonal and Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC/PAC):

While Seasonal Conjunctivitis occurs only during particular seasons, usually when the air pollen count is high, Perennial allergies are caused by dust mites, moulds or pet fur and affect the middle-aged population year-round. Common symptoms include itchy, red, burning (red eye) and watery eyes, puffy eyelids and allergic shiners (chronic under-eye dark circles) leading to light-sensitivity, although they are milder in PAC. Consult to a specialist doctor for treatments for SAC and PAC are comprised of antihistamines (applied short term for PAC treatment to avoid dryness), anti-inflammatory drugs and immunotherapy in extreme cases.

2- Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis:

Commonly affecting boys and young adults, with 75% also suffering from asthma or eczema, this allergy lasts from early spring to autumn, with a year-round occurrence rate in hot climates. More potent than SAC/PAC, defining symptoms include itchy and watery eyes, photo sensitivity and ocular foreign body sensations; usually treated with antihistamines in mild cases and corticosteroids for severe allergy. Delayed treatment may also lead to vision impairment.

3- Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis:

Males between 30-50 are commonly targeted by this seasonal allergy, which usually occurs in conjunction with asthma, atopic dermatitis or allergic rhinitis. Along with the general symptoms, burning, redness, eyelash loss and excess mucous around the eyes after sleeping-causing glued eyelids-are common symptoms of atopic keratoconjunctivitis. Antihistamines and corticosteroids are usually administered for treatment, with increased chances of corneal damage, cataract formation or blindness, in rare cases, if left untreated.

4- Contact Allergic Conjunctivitis:

This form of conjunctivitis is caused by the binding of proteins present in tears on the surface of contact lens, resulting in extreme eye irritation. Common symptoms include red, itchy eyes, irregular mucous discharge and discomfort when wearing contact lenses.

5- Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis:

A severe form of contact conjunctivitis and most common in wearers of hard (long-life) contact lenses, it may be caused in reaction to protein binding, the lens solution or the lens itself. While common symptoms include swollen, itchy and teary eyes, the defining factors are blurred vision, foreign body sensation, lens discomfort, and mucous discharge. Wearing lens while sleeping also heightens the chances of infection. The best treatment is to avoid wearing contact lenses for a certain time, particularly when using curative eye medication.

6- Contact Blepharoconjunctivitis:

It is caused by Hapten binding (small molecules that cause antibody production) to eye tissue proteins, which may either be natural resins, nickel or cobalt in cosmetics or preservatives present in eye medication such as antibiotics, antihistamines and glaucoma medications. Preservative-free antihistamines and artificial tears are used for treatment.

Eye allergies, while usually harmless, might also be a forewarning of certain eye diseases, making a professional consultation necessary. Book an Appointment with a top Ophthalmologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your ocular (Eye) needs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Lt. Col. (R) Dr. Shahzad Saeed - Author Dr. Shahzad Saeed is a leading eye specialist and surgeon who offers his services in Lahore. You can reach him out for comprehensive eye care, glaucoma surgery, eyelid lift, correction of eye bags, and a lot more.
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