Ocular allergy affects 1 out of 4 people
What is ocular allergy?
Ocular allergy is an inflammation of the conjunctiva-name that receives the transparent layer of tissue that lines the eye and the inside of the eyelids-due to contact with an external agent called allergen.
When the eyes are exposed to substances that cause allergies, the body secretes a substance called histamine. This produces a vasodilatation in the eyes, reddening and inflaming them, producing itching and tearing.
Symptoms of ocular allergy
Allergic conjunctivitis can be seasonal (only in some months of the year due to the increase in allergens that cause it) or perennial (throughout the year). It is usually bilateral (affecting both eyes), some of the symptoms that may appear are the following:
Itching (most characteristic sign)
Watery, somewhat mucous discharge
Eyelids swollen from fluid accumulation, especially in the morning
Photobobia (sensitivity to light)
Foreign body sensation in the eye
Most frequent allergens?
The allergens that cause allergic conjunctivitis more frequently are:
Hair and scaling of pets
Antibiotics: penicillins, sulfonamides, streptomycin …
How is allergy diagnosed?
For the diagnosis of allergic conjunctivitis, both the symptoms presented by the patient and the ophthalmological examination are taken into account:
- Main symptom:
- Exploration in the slit lamp: dilated conjunctival vessels, subtarsal papillae (small elevations of the inner lining of the eyelids), keratitis, …
Complementary tests that help confirm the diagnosis and discover the causative agent:
- Conjunctival smear: increased eosinophils.
- Study of tear: increase in IgE.
- Complete analysis: increase of eosinophils and IgE.
- Conjunctival provocation test: the suspected allergen is applied to one of the conjunctivae and compared with the other.
Treatment of allergic conjunctivitis
- Hygiene of the eyelid with sterile wipes.
Usually topically in eye drops or ointment:
- Artificial antiallergic tears based on ectoin
- Antihistamines (also oral).
Treatment usually relieves symptoms, however, the condition tends to reappear if exposure to irritants continues.
25% of the population can be affected by this ocular pathology that frequently appears associated with allergic rhinitis (nasal mucosa involvement)
ENVIRONMENTAL POLLEN LEVELS
TIPS to prevent the symptoms of ocular allergy
To prevent the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, the best way is to minimize or avoid contact with the allergen.
Below are a series of tips for patients with ocular allergy for better symptomatology or avoid its appearance:
Determine the type of allergy.
The most frequent in Spain are allergy to mites, pollen (most common: cypress, banana, olive and grasses) and animal hair. In the case of ocular allergies, those due to pollen are especially frequent.
Minimize contact with the allergen
(stay indoors, do not open the windows of cars and houses).
Use of sunglasses to reduce exposure. Especially the big and enveloping design.
Wash hands frequently to avoid contact of the allergen with the eye when rubbing these with the hands.
Minimize outdoor activities.
Avoid being in the street early in the morning as well as late in the afternoon because those are the hours with maximum exposure to pollen.
Use of artificial tears with protective effect to prevent contact of the allergen with the ocular surface.