Allergic Conjunctivitis

What is Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is eye inflammation caused by an allergic reaction. Conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and outside of the eyeball, keeps your eyelid and eyeball wet. Eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis occurs when this tissue becomes inflamed. There are two types: acute and chronic. Acute allergic conjunctivitis is a short term condition most common during allergy season while chronic allergic conjunctivitis occurs more frequently. 

These eye allergies are commonly triggered by pollen and pet dander, which is why springtime aggravates symptoms. Eye allergies are not contagious and should not be confused with pink eye, an infection of the outer membrane of the eyeball and the inner eyelid. Irritants like dirt and smoke can also irritate the eye. This reaction is not considered an allergic reaction. Your physician or one of our NYC Board Certified Allergists can determine if you have allergic conjunctivitis.  

Allergic Conjunctivitis Symptoms

Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Watery eyes
  • Burning
  • Swollen eyelids
  • A feeling of dirt in your eyes

If you experience these symptoms, contact one of our allergists for a quick allergist test and treatment.

Allergic Conjunctivitis Diagnosis

If you experience the above symptoms, then you should contact one of our allergy specialists. An allergist can diagnose allergic conjunctivitis with a review of your symptoms and an allergy test. Allergy testing allows your allergist to determine the triggers of your eye allergies. Our skin prick tests detect multiple allergies in less than 20 minutes. We ask that you refrain from taking antihistamines for 48 hours prior to your allergy test.

When the diagnosis is uncertain, a scraping of your conjunctival tissue may need to be taken to examine your white blood cells. The tissue sample is then stained for eosinophils, a class of white blood cells that are present in tissue affected by an allergic reaction. After the diagnosis, we offer personalized treatment plans to help you feel better fast.  

Treating Allergic Conjunctivitis

Topical antihistamines are the most effective treatments available to treat eye allergies. Over-the-counter options for topical antihistamine eye drops include Zaditor (ketotifen), Naphazoline (Vasocon) and Patanol (olopatadine). These eye drops can provide faster and longer-lasting relief than oral antihistamines. You can also apply a cool compress to your eyes to soothe itching and burning.

It’s always best to reduce exposure to allergens. If you suffer from chronic allergic conjunctivitis, we recommend beginning immunotherapy (allergy shots). Allergy shots are very effective in controlling your eye allergy symptoms. You will also experience less sneezing, coughing, and asthma symptoms as well as nasal congestion. Contact NY Allergy & Sinus Centers at (212) 686-4448 or book an allergy appointment online to start allergy treatment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Allergic Conjunctivitis Contagious?

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. It is a mild allergic reaction that cannot be spread to others. 

How is Allergic Conjunctivitis Treated?

Allergic Conjunctivitis is treated with topical antihistamine eye drops. You can use a cool compress to soothe symptoms related to burning and itching. It’s also best to treat your allergies with allergy shots.

How Can I Prevent Allergic Conjunctivitis?

You can prevent allergic conjunctivitis by avoiding allergens. Also, keep up with your allergy treatment at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers.

How Long Does It Take for Allergic Conjunctivitis to Go Away?

Mild cases of allergic conjunctivitis will go away once you are no longer exposed to the allergen. After taking medication, your symptoms should subside within an hour.

Is Allergic Conjunctivitis Pink Eye?

Allergic Conjunctivitis is not pink eye. Pink eye is a contagious condition while allergic conjunctivitis cannot be spread to others.

How Do I Know if I Have Pink Eye or Just Allergies?

If you have pink eye, you may have a crusty yellow or green discharge from your eyes and your eyelids can often be stuck together. Redness is often only in one eye for cases of pink eye and itchy eyes aren’t usually a symptom as they are in cases of allergic conjunctivitis. An allergist can determine your eye condition. 

Can Allergic Conjunctivitis Be Caused by mold?

Allergic conjunctivitis can be triggered by mold. When mold spores enter the eyes, it can cause itching, burning, and redness.

Does Allergic Conjunctivitis Go Away On Its Own?

Allergic Conjunctivitis can go away on its own when you eliminate exposure to allergens. However, it’s best to seek treatment for your allergies at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers to prevent future cases of allergic conjunctivitis. 

Can Allergic Conjunctivitis Spread to the Other Eye?

Allergic Conjunctivitis symptoms are usually present in both eyes. Occasionally, you can experience symptoms in just one eye if you rub it with an allergen present on your hands.

How Do You Get Allergic Conjunctivitis?

You can get allergic conjunctivitis by being exposed to allergens. Pollen, mold, and pet dander are the main culprits of allergic reactions in the eye.

Is Allergic Conjunctivitis Infectious?

Allergic conjunctivitis is not infectious. It is an allergic reaction, not a viral or bacterial condition. You cannot spread allergic conjunctivitis to others.