Do your eyes tingle or water? Discover the symptoms and treatments of allergic conjunctivitis to relieve your irritated eyes. If your eyes are tingling or watering, you may suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, a common eye inflammation, especially in spring. Unlike bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis poses no risk of contamination and does not affect eyesight. Find out more about the symptoms and treatments associated with this condition below. 

What is allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis is characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva, a transparent membrane covering the eye and inner eyelids, in response to an allergen in the environment. The main triggers are pollens, particularly those of grasses, trees, and herbaceous plants, which are common in spring. Other potential allergens include pet hair, dust mites, make-up, mould and chlorine from swimming pools. Often associated with allergic rhinitis, this condition can lead to sneezing and a runny nose.

What are the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis manifests itself as stinging, burning, redness and tearing, usually present in both eyes. In some cases, only one eye may be affected, or more than the other. Symptoms may also include itchy eyes and nose, sneezing and nasal congestion, often leading to eye rubbing that can aggravate irritation and cause swelling of the eyelids. 

How is allergic conjunctivitis treated?

To relieve the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, avoid exposure to allergens as much as possible and use cold water compresses to soothe discomfort. Over-the-counter eye drops containing antihistamines such as ketotifen can also help relieve symptoms, as can lubricating drops for dry eyes. If these measures are not effective, we recommend consulting an optometrist. 

When should I seek medical advice for allergic conjunctivitis?

It's advisable to consult a healthcare professional if antihistamine eye drops don't relieve symptoms or if the eyelids continue to swell. Prescription antihistamine and anti-inflammatory eye drops can be prescribed to relieve eye irritation effectively.