Eye Allergy – What It Is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments In this article, you will get all your doubts about this disease. In addition, the eye may be affected by allergic processes, characterized by an excessive action of the immune system that ends up harming the body itself.
The process ranges from mild, with few symptoms, to severe, very itchy and light sensitive, including risk of vision loss . Allergy has great impact on the patient’s life and its treatment brings great relief.
What is Eye Allergy?
Eye allergy arises when allergens come into contact with the eye mucosa (called the conjunctiva), triggering what is called allergic conjunctivitis. People with allergies produce a special antibody – immunoglobulin E and do so for harmless, relatively banal substances in the environment. Once produced, it binds to special cells (mast cells) that are abundant in the skin and mucous membranes “waiting” for your allergen.
When they find it, they cause the immediate and “explosive” release of chemicals by mast cells that cause rapid (5 to 10 minutes) intense inflammation and allergy symptoms. If exposure to this allergen is intense and very prolonged this inflammation, and allergic disease, can become chronic and persistent.
Symptoms of this disease are intense itching, red eyes , abundant transparent discharge, foreign body sensation in the eyes , photosensitivity, eyelid swelling. These symptoms usually occur shortly after contact with the allergen and involve both eyes .
The two main types of allergic conjunctivitis are: seasonal conjunctivitis (mostly caused by pollens and therefore related to pollination schedules) and perennial conjunctivitis (more constant throughout the year and related to more permanent exposure to allergens) .
Causes of Eye Allergy:
Also called allergic conjunctivitis, this type of allergy causes severe itching , redness, tearing, swelling and light sensitivity; not to be confused with contagious viral conjunctivitis.
One of the major problems with eye allergy sufferers is, in an attempt to alleviate the feeling that there is a foreign body, not resisting the intense urge to scratch the eye , which can accentuate the picture due to microbes in the hands.
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Eye Allergy Symptoms:
The patient feels itching in eyes that is usually accompanied by tearing, photophobia (light bothering) and increased eye discharge (rheum). Sometimes it may also worsen vision during seizures due to the appearance of a corneal injury called keratitis.
Adults and children may have eye allergy and there are different types of allergy, some are caused by specific substances like sunscreen cream or makeup and others caused by substances in the environment like pollen, animal hair, dust mites, etc. In both cases there is a predisposition of the patient’s organism to have the allergy.
Eye Allergy Treatment:
The ophthalmologist examines the patient and can determine the intensity of the allergy and its severity. Usually the treatment is local using drops, but sometimes we must change the environment where the patient lives, as explained below:
Environmental measures: The ideal is to reduce contact of patients with allergens, which are environmental substances or foods that increase allergy attacks – dust, pet hair and dust mite are often the main causes of eye allergy .
In some patients, although rarer, foods may function as allergens. Thus we should adopt environmental hygiene measures, removing carpets, curtains and pets from contact with the child or allergic person, and use special cover on pillows and mattress.
Eye treatment: In treatment we use cold compresses (over closed eyes ) to reduce itching and, if not enough, use special eye drops. In these cases the ophthalmologist should follow the case to avoid and treat possible complications.
There are many types of eye drops for the treatment of allergy and some of them, such as corticosteroids, should only be prescribed by a doctor because their misuse can lead to blindness due to increased eye pressure . Eye drops that often help a lot include antihistamines like Patanol or Lastacaft.