Conjunctivitis: allergic conjunctivitis
Allergic conjunctivitis can affect not only the eyes but the nose as well, when it is known by doctors as allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. Eye symptoms include redness, itching, burning, blurring of vision and a watery discharge. The condition often causes acute discomfort in bright sunlight (photophobia), and itching and burning of the tissues surrounding the eye.
Allergic conjunctivitis may be seasonal or the symptoms may be experienced all year round if a person is exposed to allergens such as:
- dust mite;
- animals’ fur or hair or skin;
- indoor and outdoor mould spores and;
- (occasionally) food or food additives.
Seasonal airborne allergens
These are usually outdoor allergens such as the pollen from grass, trees and weeds. Pollen allergy symptoms vary from day to day and can depend on the weather. Often the symptoms caused by pollen allergy are better in wet weather, only to worsen again on hot, windy days. The types of mould spores carried in the air can vary from season to season so these symptoms may also be seasonal.
Physical signs of allergic conjunctivitis
Physical signs include:
- swelling of the conjunctiva. This swelling can range from mild to severe and is known as chemosis;
- redness; and
- infra-orbital oedema (fluid retention around the eye’s orbit) and ecchymoses (bruising of the eye tissues, or ‘allergic shiner’).
Last Reviewed: 02 January 2002