Ocular allergies are caused by the same factors as hay fever: pollen of trees, grasses and flowers, pet fur, dust mites. Typically, tears that wash out all the particles and debris from the eye form a protective barrier. If, however, the tears themselves are not able to extract these irritants the particles get deeper into the lining of the eye and cause inflammation.
When the eye comes in contact with the allergen, it is trying to defend itself. This involves the formation of antibodies that fight the eye-irritating substances. The symptoms of this struggle are the: itching, burning and tearing. The longer the eye is in contact with the allergen; the symptoms are stronger and harder to control.
The types of ocular allergy
Ocular allergies may occur alone, or in combination with skin allergies, respiratory or digestive system problems. Most of the time, however, the ocular allergies are accompanied by hay fever.
The most common types of ocular allergies are:
Acute allergic conjunctivitis
Allergens (pollen, dust mites, mold) get into the conjunctival sac of the eye. Symptoms of an acute allergic conjunctivitis include: sudden onset, often in young people, itching, burning, and redness of the eyes with a small amount of mucous secretions.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis occurs frequently in patients with hay fever. Usually the symptoms include: teary eyes, burning and itching, which is often accompanied by symptoms of a respiratory disease. The conjunctiva is often swollen. This form of allergy occurs seasonally.
This is a fairly rare disease, bilateral and recurrent. Affects mostly boys in the first and second decade of life and usually passes in adolescence. Symptoms include severe itching, tearing, photophobia, mucous discharge, foreign body sensation in the eye. Itchy eyes is often the predominant symptom, symptoms typically worsen in the morning.
This is an ocular manifestation of systemic hypersensitivity to any factor. Apart from conjunctivitis and keratitis the following symptoms may also occur: hay fever, urticaria and asthma. This form of allergic ocular disease is most common in young men; it is usually bilateral and lasts several years. The predominant symptoms are bothersome tearing, itching, a large amount of mucous secretions and photophobia.