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Allergic Conjunctivitis: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jul 20, 2024

What is the treatment?

Allergic conjunctivitis can also be called as recurrent pink eyes caused due to allergens like pollen, hay fever, dust, etc.

How is the treatment done?

Pink eye or conjunctivitis, that is, inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye when caused due to body’s reaction on exposure to allergens is called allergic conjunctivitis. Of the several allergens, hay fever is the most common behind causing allergic conjunctivitis. The red, itchy, and watery eyes can also be caused due to allergic reaction of the body's immune system to other allergens like pollen, animal saliva, dust particles, dust mites, air pollution, smoke, perfumes, cosmetics and other medicines.

Allergic conjunctivitis is mainly of two types. They are, acute allergic conjunctivitis and chronic allergic conjunctivitis. Acute is a short lasting condition, specially during the allergic seasons while chronic can occur all through out the year.

Symptoms of allergic pink eyes include inflammation of the inner skin of the eyes. These include redness, itchy eyes with increased tears, blurred vision and swelled eyes.

Basic treatment includes avoiding the allergen and providing relief to the eyes. Eye drops can be very useful in this as it helps to remove the allergens and restore normal eye conditions. People are also advised not to rub their eyes and apply cold compresses lightly for relief. Medications like an oral or over-the-counter antihistamine can be used to reduce or block histamine release. Azelastine, emedastine, and ketotifen are the most commonly prescribed antihistamines. Mast cell stabilizers are also another option, but they take a little longer time to be effective. Corticosteroids, prescribed rarely, only during severe conditions of pink eye, can also reduce swelling and decrease the body's immune response.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Before prescribing treatment, doctors or ophthalmologists will first diagnose the condition. Presence of small bumps inside the skins covering the eyes and redness in the white areas are visible signs of pink eyes. For allergic pink eyes, doctors recommend an allergy skin test which shows the body’s response to allergens, blood tests to see body’s productivity of proteins and antibodies. A part of the conjunctival tissue may also be scraped to examine the white blood cells.

Allergic pink eyes may be treated in one or many of the following ways. Doctors can use the following treatment methods depending on the severity and condition of the eyes. Ocular or topical decongestants are medicines used for short term treatment. They help in reducing the redness by constricting small blood vessels in the eye. Histamine production can be controlled by the use of ocular or topical antihistamines. They help to reduce the symptoms like redness, itching and swelling. Lubricants can help to flush out the allergens from the eyes and thus, facilitate faster healing. People with allergic pink eyes do not produce enough tears and thus, lubricants are specially advised for them. Steroids which include eye drops and mast cell stabilizers like cromolyn are also used by doctors in order to treat this disease. Immunotherapy is another method, where allergy shots are proved to be effective in the treatment of pink eyes.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People should visit a doctor when symptoms of allergic pink eyes show up. The eyes turn red and start itching. Also, when the symptoms keep persisting without any signs of going away, people should seek medical treatment and care.

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Are there any side effects?

People with no signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis do not need to undergo any treatment. Also, for some people who are allergic, release of histamine may be small and thus, not cause a major symptom of pink eye. In such cases, the redness and swelling goes away over night or within a day or two. In such cases, people do not need any medical care.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

There are some side effects of the treatment methods used for allergic pink eyes or conjunctivitis. Some medicines like antihistamines can cause drowsiness in the person. Corticosteroids are good when used only for a short term, when used on a long term basis, they can cause severe side effects in people. Also, the steroid eye drops must be used under peescription because these drops can also increase the risk of cataracts in people, clouding the lens of the eye that can impair vision.

How long does it take to recover?

After treatment, people should avoid getting in further contact with the allergen. They should keep clean and stay away from any such thing that could trigger the problem again. They should avoid wearing contact lenses and use only glasses to protect the eyes. Using eye drops and cold compression as recommended by the doctors must be maintained. High hygiene must be maintained to prevent any eye infection or pink eyes. Avoiding rubbing of eyes, washing hands with soap and water before touching anywhere near the eyes, avoiding eye make ups etc can help to recover faster from the condition.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Allergic conjunctivitis takes a longer time to recover from in comparison to other types of pink eyes. It does not go away unless the allergen has been removed or the season does not change. They are more likely to cause problems in the particular seasons. It takes around five or six weeks for the person to recover from allergic conjunctivitis. Sometimes it may last indefinitely, until the seasonal variation occurs.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Treatment cost of allergic conjunctivitis is not at all expensive. The medicines are available over the counter. Eye drops, antihistamines etc. will cost around Rs 200/-. The use of other medicines and diagnostic tests may require around Rs 600-Rs 800/- for the treatment. Additional costs depends on the duration of medicine intake, severity of the condition etc.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Allergic conjunctivitis can be cured permanently with the aid of proper treatment. Sometimes, this pink eye may recur due to abundance of allergens and body’s reaction to it with excessive production of histamines. But treatment successfully provides relief to people and help to remove the allergens to prevent further worsening of the condition.

References

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Written ByDr. Basavaraj MBBS, MS - General Surgery, DNB (Genitourinary Surgery)Homeopathy
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