Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, also known as hayfever, is an eye inflammation that occurs when the eye comes into contact with an allergen, such as pollen. Symptoms include redness, itching, watering eyes, and swelling of the eyelids. Treatment options include antihistamines and artificial tears.
What Causes Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis?
An overreaction of the immune system causes seasonal allergies to airborne allergens, such as pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. When these allergens come into contact with the eye, they trigger the release of histamine and other chemicals that can cause irritation and inflammation. Seasonal allergies typically occur in the spring and fall, depending on the allergen involved.
Who Is at Risk for Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis?
Seasonal allergies are prevalent—in fact, they affect up to 30% of adults and 40% of children in the United States. In addition, people who have a family history of allergies or other allergic conditions (such as asthma or eczema) are at increased risk for developing seasonal allergies.
What Are the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis?
The most common symptoms of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis are watery eyes, itchy eyes, red eyes, and swollen eyelids. These symptoms can be mild or severe depending on the person’s sensitivity to the allergen. Some people may also experience a runny nose, sneezing, or coughing.
How Is Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is usually made based on the person’s symptoms and medical history. In some cases, allergy testing may be necessary to identify the specific allergen involved so that avoidance measures can be implemented.
The good news is that seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is usually a self-limited condition that will resolve once the allergen is no longer present. In the meantime, several treatment options can help reduce symptoms and improve comfort.
- Over-the-counter oral antihistamines such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), or fexofenadine (Allegra)
- Over-the-counter topical antihistamines such as ketotifen (Zaditor).
- Artificial tears (such as Systane).
- Corticosteroid eye drops (such as Pred Forte).
- Cold compresses are applied to the eyes. In severe cases, oral corticosteroids (such as prednisone) may be necessary.
You must see your doctor to start proper treatment if you think you may have seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. Untreated seasonal allergies can lead to chronic dry eye, corneal ulcers, and recurrent infections. In addition, seasonal allergic conjunctivitis can permanently damage your vision if left untreated, so if your eyes are bothering you this allergy season, please don’t hesitate to call us today at 772-257-8700 to schedule a consultation.