Allergies and Your Child's Eyes -" Does My Child Have "Pink-Eye" or Allergic Conjunctivitis?
Allergic ocular diseases are a common problem in children. Children with allergic conjunctivitis often have asthma, hay fever, and eczema as well.
What Is Allergic Conjunctivitis?
Allergic conjunctivitis is a reaction of the conjunctiva (the thin membrane covering the white part of the eye and inside of the eyelids) to environmental allergens, including dust, pollen, and animal dander, as well as certain medications. Allergic conjunctivitis is not an infection and is not contagious. Three specific types of ocular allergy are seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, and atopic keratoconjunctivitis.
What Symptoms Will My Child Have?
The hallmarks of allergic conjunctivitis are itching, redness, and swelling of both eyes of a chronic, recurrent, and often seasonal nature. Other common symptoms include stinging, burning, tearing, and light sensitivity. Oftentimes, children will rub their eyes constantly, which tends to make the itching and swelling even worse. A watery discharge may be present, and sometimes it may be possible to see tiny bumps on the inside surface of the eyelids.
What Causes Allergic Conjunctivitis?
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is caused by coming into contact with something to which your child is sensitized. Spring allergies are often due to tree pollen, summer allergies to grass and weed pollen, and fall allergies to ragweed. Winter allergies tend to be due to household allergens, including dust, mold, and animal dander.
Is Allergic Conjunctivitis the Same as “Pink-Eye”?
No. Pink-eye usually refers to a contagious viral or bacterial infection of the conjunctiva. Children with viral pink-eye usually have a greater amount of watery discharge, while children with bacterial pink-eye commonly have yellowish-green discharge, morning crusting, and difficulty opening the eyelids.
What Medication Should My Child Take?
Allergic conjunctivitis may be treated with both prescription and non-prescription medications. Non-prescription medications include artificial tears, which wash out the allergen from the surface of the eyes, antihistamines, and vasoconstrictors (redness relievers). However, medications containing redness relievers should not be used for more than 72 hours. Recommended non-drug treatments include cool compresses to the eyes and eliminating the source of allergens with air conditioning and electronic air filters.
Prescription anti-allergy drops have many different ways to help alleviate the allergic reaction and its symptoms. Your childs pediatric ophthalmologist can perform a comprehensive eye examination and recommend the medication that would be best for your child.