Causes of Allergic Conjunctivitis

Ever feel like scratching your eyes out? You may be under the influence of allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis manifests when the eyes come into contact with allergens and become inflamed, red, and maddeningly itchy. Common triggers include pollens, mold, dust, and pet dander.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

The conjunctiva is a membrane that covers the inner eyelids as well as the outer eyeball. It can become swollen and inflamed when it comes into contact with allergens.

There are five main cause of allergic conjunctivitis.

1. Aromas from household chemicals like cleaning materials and cologne
2. Animal dander
3. Mold
4. Grass, weed and tree pollen
5. Dust inside and outside of the house

There are two types of allergic conjunctivitis.

1. Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis – This type of allergy comes and goes, often manifesting during the high allergy seasons of spring and fall. Acute allergic conjunctivitis is also often accompanied by other hay fever symptoms.

2. Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis – As the name implies, this kind of conjunctivitis lingers—sometimes even occurring year round. While it can be exacerbated by seasonal pollens, it is often caused by perennial allergy triggers such as dust, mold and pet dander. With chronic conjunctivitis, the sufferer feels an ongoing burning and/or itching sensation in the eyes.

Allergic conjunctivitis is triggered when the eyes come in contact with allergens and the body perceives them as a threat. When this happens, histamine is produced. The histamine is the body’s way of fighting off harmful entities, but in the case of an allergic reaction, it ends up hurting the body by triggering reactions such as hay fever, sinus infections, and, of course, allergic conjunctivitis.

Allergic conjunctivitis is one of the least comfortable manifestations of allergy. If you are tired of living with it, seek help from a physician. Allergic conjunctivitis treatment is available through a number of medications including antihistamines and corticosteroids. Medications often provide an appropriate solution for short-term conjunctivitis.

If your allergic conjunctivitis is particularly uncomfortable, lasts for more than three months per year, or keeps recurring, consider allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy treats the allergy itself—not just its symptoms. It is available through allergy injections or your physician can alternately prescribe sublingual immunotherapy (an alternative to shots that uses oral allergy drops to desensitize the body to allergens).

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.