14 Apr 2024

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A Guide to 5 Types of Allergic Eye Disease

A Guide to 5 Types of Allergic Eye Disease 

Nothing is so weird a thing than the feeling that there is something in your eye. It shows symptoms independently but usually accompany sneezing, sniffling or stuffy nose related to nasal allergies. In some instances, when your eyes are red and irritated, and you don’t see anything in them, it could be allergies.

Allergic eye disease is very like other allergies such as hayfever, asthma, and eczema in which there is an excessive immune reaction to something in the environment.

The 5 Primary Types of Eye Allergies

The moment your body’s immune system becomes sensitive and overreacts to something, you begin to develop allergies. You can have some allergic reactions when the allergen comes in contact with antibodies in the mast cells of your eyes. At the point of contact, your cells release histamine, other substances, and chemicals that cause tiny blood vessels to leak; when this happens, your eyes become itchy, red, and watery.

There are 5 primary types of eye allergies:

1 Seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis (SAC)

The most prevalent kind of eye allergy is seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. It depends on the type of plant pollens in the air, and patients suffer symptoms in the spring, summer, or fall. Typical signs and symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Clear, watery discharge
  • Redness

Patients with SAC may have chronic dark circles (known as allergic shiners) under their eyes. In this condition, the eyelids may be puffy, and bright lights may be bothersome.

2 Perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC)

Perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC), as we can understand with its name, occurs year-round.

This problem has a documented prevalence of 0.03% of the population. It might be an underestimate because symptoms are mild, and most patients prefer to visit their general practitioners and not by an ophthalmologist. 

Its symptoms persist throughout the year, with seasonal variations in up to 87% of patients. It increases particularly in the autumn months when exposure to dust mite and fungal allergens is greatest. We see that the clinical signs and symptoms are similar to SAC but are milder and more persistent.

3 Vernal keratoconjunctivitis

SAC or PAC is less significant for eye allergies than vernal keratoconjunctivitis. While it may happen at any time of year, symptoms may intensify as the season’s change. It typically affects boys and young men, with around 75% of patients also suffering from eczema or asthma. Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • Itching
  • Significant tearing and production of thick mucus
  • A feeling of having something in the eye (foreign body sensation)
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis is a problematic issue as it can impair vision.

4 Atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC)

It is a more severe form of ocular allergy, with prolonged symptoms, like sight-threatening changes and atopic dermatitis. We observe around 3% of the population have atopic dermatitis, of which 25%–40% have some form of ocular involvement. Patients may show conjunctival scarring, papillae formation (shrinking the fornices), and punctate corneal keratopathy. All these issues may progress to:

  • Severe corneal epithelial disease
  • Opacification, pannus
  • Superficial vascularisation.

We can also see a link between cataracts and keratoconus.

5 Giant papillary conjunctivitis

This much less common disease affects contact lens wearers and patients with artificial eyes. Large, cobblestone-like papillae form on the inner surface of the upper eyelid.

Medical treatment

Treatment of allergic eye disease involves:

  • Avoiding known causes
  • Simple home remedies
  • “Over-the-counter” medicines
  • Prescription medicines
  • Specialist only medicines

Management For Allergic Eye Diseases

It may include:

1 Allergen avoidance

Avoiding the allergens that cause your symptoms should be the priority in controlling seasonal or perennial eye allergies.

2 Outdoor exposure

When pollen concentrations are at their highest, generally in the mid-morning and early evening, and when the wind is blowing pollens around, stay as much as possible indoors.

3 Indoor exposure

Keep windows closed and use air conditioners in your car and house to reduce indoor exposure. Wash your air conditioners thoroughly regularly.

4 Adopt Good Hygiene Practices

Instead of dry-dusting or sweeping, clean floors with a moist cloth or mop.


Several eye allergies share symptoms with some diseases of the eye, making accurate diagnosis imperative. These symptoms can range from mildly annoying redness to inflammation severe enough to impair vision. If symptoms persist, see an eye specialist who will review your medical history and symptoms and conduct tests to reveal an eye allergy.


What is allergic eye disease treatment?

  • Artificial tears. Artificial tear drops help relieve eye allergies temporarily by washing allergens from the eye
  • Decongestants (with or without antihistamines)
  • Oral antihistamines
  • Antihistamine/mast-cell stabilizers
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunotherapy shots

Enlist the signs and symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?

These include:

  • Intense itching of eyes and urge to rub eyes.
  • Red eyes.
  • Watery or white, stringy mucus discharge.
  • Swollen eyelids.

What are the eye allergy types?

Types of Allergies

  • Drug Allergy.
  • Food Allergy.
  • Insect Allergy.
  • Latex Allergy.
  • Mold Allergy.
  • Pet Allergy.
  • Pollen Allergy.

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