Perennial or Atopic Conjunctivitis
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A common conjunctivitis, perennial conjunctivitis is a chronic, year round allergic reaction that affects millions of people. It is often related to substances that we come in contact with at anytime of the year such as animal dander, chemicals and dust. Someone can develop new perennial allergies at any age.
Perennial conjunctivitis is similar to seasonal allergies in that it often exists with nasal (runny nose) and throat symptoms as well. The eye symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- excessive watering or tearing
- scratchy sensation as if sand was stuck in the eye
- pain or burning
Perennial allergies cannot be cured. Some sufferers will receive allergy shots over a period of many months to try to build up immunities to the problem pollens and molds. The allergy shots will make the allergic reactions less severe but will not completely cure the patient.
Some of the most common treatments for perennial conjunctivitis are as follows:
- Antihistamine drops (dropped directly into the eyes)
- Vasoconstrictors (reduces swelling and redness)
- Steroid drops (reduces swelling and redness)
- Cold compresses on the eye to relieve redness and swelling
- Staying away from the allergens if possible and washing your hands and face often to remove allergens
- Oral antihistamines (taken by mouth)
Antihistamine drops usually relieve symptoms within a few minutes of instillation whereas oral medication may take up to an hour to work. Take oral antihistamines ahead of time if you know you will be coming in contact with something you are allergic to. Oral antihistamines can cause unwanted side effects such as sleepiness, dryness in the mouth, nose and eyes and mood swings. Long-term steroid use in the eye can cause lesions on the cornea.
Lack of treatment for allergic conjunctivitis can sometimes lead to a bacterial infection in the eyes or the sinuses. The doctor will prescribe an antibiotic that will be dropped directly into the eye or taken by mouth to clear up the infection.
Note: Do not wear contact lenses during a flare up of allergic conjunctivitis and follow doctor's advice if using antihistamine drugs.
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Last updated or reviewed: 11-01-13