Eye allergies are one of the most common disorders affecting up to 25% of people worldwide. They can be caused by a number of factors including your environment, skin conditions and even your contact lenses. And while most types of eye allergies are relatively harmless (albeit annoying and frustrating to deal with), there are some forms that can cause serious damage to your vision. There are many different types of eye allergies, and if you suspect you may have eye allergies, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to accurately diagnose and treat the specific type.
Allergic conjunctivitis is the most common form of eye allergy. It’s caused by an allergic reaction to an airborne irritant like pollen or animal dander. Symptoms are mild, but can be bothersome and include itchiness, redness, watery discharge, inflamed or puffy eyelids, and can occur alongside other symptoms like a runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing.
Allergic conjunctivitis can be grouped into 2 types:
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (hay fever) is associated with allergies that occur specifically during a season such as spring and summer, and sometimes fall. Allergies can be triggered by pollen, grass, smoke and other outdoor airborne allergens.
Perennial allergic conjunctivitis persists throughout the year and is generally triggered by indoor airborne allergens like animal dander, lint, dust and mold spores.
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) is a chronic, seasonal allergic disorder that generally occurs during the spring or warm weather. Like seasonal allergies, vernal conjunctivitis is triggered by outdoor airborne allergens. However, VKC is caused by hypersensitivity to these allergens, resulting in itchiness, sensitivity to light, redness, inflammation inside the eyelid, the formation of papillae and stringy or mucous discharge.
Atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is another chronic allergic disorder that affects persons with the skin condition, atopic dermatitis (eczema). Symptoms generally include itchiness, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, inflammation inside the eyelid, stringy or mucous discharge and thickened, crusty or fissured eyelids. Unlike other eye allergies, AKC can cause serious complications like cataracts and retinal detachment.
Giant papillary conjunctivitis
Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is an inflammatory disorder that occurs generally in persons who wear contact eyes. However, it has also occurred in individuals with artificial eyes or stitches in the eye. GPS can be caused by a few things including an allergy to your contact lens or the products you use to clean them, improperly cleaned lenses, exposed stitches, or excessive friction caused by your lenses rubbing against the inside of your eyelid. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, blurred vision, stringy or mucous discharge and inflammation inside the eyelid.