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Allergic conjunctivitis: management

Allergic conjunctivitis: treatment

While it is uncomfortable and inconvenient, seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is relatively straightforward to manage

Posted: 26 April 2016

If you’ve missed yesterday’s episode of this week’s feature on conjunctivitis, click here.

Writer: Asha Fowells

Allergic conjunctivitis and dry eye caused by hay fever can cause major discomfort for patients during the summer months.

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is relatively straightforward to manage, and while uncomfortable and often inconvenient, it is pleasingly unlikely to cause any complications. There are several self-care measures that sufferers can put into place to try and ease their symptoms:

• avoid rubbing eyes as the action causes further mast cell degranulation, which in turn triggers histamine release and worsening or prolonged symptoms.

• minimise exposure to the allergen by staying indoors with windows shut if possible and regularly vacuuming and damp dusting, and wearing wraparound sunglasses if outside, though going outdoors should ideally be avoided in the early morning, evening and at night when the pollen count is at its peak.

• eschew contact lens wearing in favour of glasses until symptoms resolve.

• place a cold compress such as face flannel soaked in cool water or a refrigerated gel-filled eye mask over the eyes to reduce oedema and redness.

Treatment is usually two-fold, involving rapid relief of symptoms followed by preventative therapy. The former is generally best achieved using an oral or topical antihistamine. The choice between these two options should be dictated by the patient’s preference, given that there is insufficient evidence supporting any one course of treatment over another. Factors that warrant consideration include the patient’s age, dosing regimen, contact lens use, cost and, if the patient is a woman of childbearing age, whether she is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Join us tomorrow for the third episode of this week’s feature on seasonal allergic conjunctivitis as we’ll be discussing its prevention