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The most common type of ocular allergies are seasonal and perennial (year round) allergic conjunctivitis. Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (hay fever conjunctivitis), is the more common type accounting for the majority of allergic conjunctivitis cases. As its name suggests, it is related to specific pollens that spore during specific seasons. Symptoms generally include red, itchy, and watery eyes. People affected by hay fever and other seasonal allergies also experience symptoms involving the nose and throat.
Perennial allergic conjunctivitis is a year-round allergic condition. These allergic responses are often related to animal dander, dust, or other allergens that are present in the environment year round. Symptoms are similar to seasonal allergic conjunctivitis: however, they tend to be milder.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis generally occurs in the spring months (grass pollen induced), and in the late summer months (ragweed pollen induced). Itching is a dominant symptom in seasonal allergic conjunctivitis diagnosis, as well as watery/mucus discharge, burning, and redness.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, unless you can find a way to completely avoid coming into contact with the allergens.
What Treatment Options are Available?
Relief from seasonal allergic conjunctivitis comes in many ways. Allergy shots, a desensitization process, can be helpful for some people in reducing symptoms and the need for other medications.
There are also various topical and oral medications readily available at local pharmacies and pharmacies and drugstores. For particularly serious cases, a variety of prescription medications are available.
Do Oral Antihistamines Provide Effective Relief?
Most medications fall into the antihistamine category, either topical or oral. Both work to block the release of histamine, which causes many of the symptoms. You can find out more about your body's reaction to allergens here.
Orally ingested antihistamines may partially relieve ocular symptoms. They can be a convenient way to obtain relief although it can often take an hour or more before they begin to work. Some oral antihistamines can produce unwanted side-effects such as drowsiness, irritability and dryness. They work best if taken before exposure to the allergen, but pollen release is dependent upon many seasonal and daily climatic factors that can't be accurately predicted.
Topical antihistamines, in the form of eye drops, may prove the most effective way to get relief from Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis. Unlike oral medications, eye drops allow the medication to get directly to the affected eyes. Many contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant. Applied when necessary, these drops can alleviate within minutes most of the annoying symptoms such as itching, redness, tearing and swelling.
New and highly potent prescription topical antihistamines are also available from your doctor that work on contact and provide hours of relief with virtually no side-effects.
Other Steps You Can Take for Relief:
Keep windows in your home and car closed during the pollen season: use air conditioning instead. If you suffer badly, some cars have filters fitted that remove the pollen from incoming air.
Avoid outdoor activities such as mowing the lawn or gardening, especially in the morning and early afternoon when pollen release is at its height.
Wash your hands, face and hair often to rid them of pollen that may accumulate.
Don't rub your eyes. Rubbing stimulates the release of chemicals which can make you eyes even itchier.
Use cold compresses to alleviate the itching.
If you wear soft contact lenses, don't wear them if you're using eye drops. There are steps you can take to make lens wear more comfortable during allergy season.
One of the most effective things you can do however, is to check with your doctor, allergist or eye care professional first. He or she can properly diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment for you.
Also see - Allergic Conjunctivitis