What is allergic conjunctivitis?

What is allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition that occurs when the layer of tissue lining the eyelids and white of the eye (conjunctiva) become swollen or inflamed due to an allergic reaction to pollen, mould, dander or other allergen.1 Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and symptoms include redness in the white of the eye or eyelid, increased tears, itchy eyes, blurred vision and swelling of the eyelids. Symptoms are usually present in both eyes, although not always to the same extent.2

The best way to prevent an episode of allergic conjunctivitis from occurring is to avoid the substances that trigger your allergies. If you are affected, there are several things you can do to help
relieve your symptoms. These include:3

  • Removing your contact lenses if you wear them.
  • Using ‘artificial tears’, a type of eye drop that is available over‐ the‐counter and may help to reduce the irritation. Do not use the same bottle of drops in the other eye if it isn’t affected.
  • Try placing cold compresses over your eyes.

Practise good hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching or rubbing the affected eye area. Washing pillowcases, linen and towels in detergent and hot water will help to reduce allergens as well. Swap contact lenses for glasses if you need them and avoid wearing eye makeup wherever possible. And of course, never share eye makeup with anyone or wear someone else’s contact lenses.3

If you develop conjunctivitis, make an appointment to see your doctor to check whether it is caused by an allergy. They may prescribe medication to help control allergic reactions. Severe cases of allergic conjunctivitis may require treatment by either an allergy specialist or an eye specialist.4