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What is the Connection Between Pink Eye and Allergies?

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  • Written By: Lindsey Rivas
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2018
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Pink eye and allergies can be directly related in that seasonal allergies can be a cause of pink eye. Conjunctivitis, another term for pink eye, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva membrane that lines the inner eyelid and the whites of the eyeball. Allergic pink eye is not contagious, but it has many similar symptoms to the highly contagious bacterial and viral pink eye infections. Treatment typically involves over-the-counter or prescription eyedrops to relieve the symptoms. The connection between pink eye and allergies can often be prevented by avoiding allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and dust.

In most cases, the relationship between pink eye and allergies is a seasonal occurrence, as those who have seasonal allergies are more prone to getting allergic pink eye. The condition is generally caused by direct contact with an allergen either through the air or by touching the eye after touching an allergen. It usually affects both eyes simultaneously.

The symptoms of allergic pink eye are similar to those of bacterial and viral pink eye. The most common signs are pink or redness of the whites of the eyes and swelling of the eyelids and area surrounding the eyes. Excess tearing and clear discharge may also be present along with blurry vision. Also, pink eye and allergies can cause itchiness of the eyes and a burning sensation.

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Treatment of the condition resulting from pink eye and allergies usually entails various types of eyedrops. Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine eyedrops work by blocking histamine chemicals, which reduces redness, swelling, and itchiness in the eyes. Decongestant eyedrops constrict blood vessels in the eye, which also reduces redness, but they are only meant for short-term use. If neither of those are effective, a doctor might prescribe topical ocular steroids. These should only be used under doctor supervision because they can cause vision damage if not used properly.

There are a few additional tips that can relieve or prevent the symptoms of pink eye and allergies. Contact lenses should not be worn until the allergic pink eye has been resolved. Cold compresses on the eyes can relieve the symptoms, and a moist washcloth can be used to wipe away discharge. Also, nonprescription eyedrops can ease the itching and burning sensations. Avoiding allergens that trigger the symptoms as much as possible can help prevent pink eye, and in some cases, getting an allergy shot can prevent it as well.

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