Eye problems: Is it an allergy or pink eye?

Are you confused if you have conjunctivitis or just an eye allergy? Read on to find out the difference between the two, and the treatment.
eye problems in monsoon
Keep your hands away from your eyes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 11:09 am IST
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Eye problems can be annoying and irritating. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the outer membrane that protects the eyeball. Allergies of the eye and pink eye are both kinds of conjunctivitis. Since many of the symptoms of pink eye and eye allergies are similar, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.

Dr. Neeraj Sanduja, MBBS, MS – Ophthalmology, Ophthalmologist, Eye Surgeon, helps us understand what sets the two conditions apart from each other. The next time you or your family members show any signs, you will be better equipped with what to do.

Let’s find out the difference between conjunctivitis and eye allergy.

What is pink eye or conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, sometimes known as pink eye, is a contagious infection of the conjunctiva of the eye. The infection lies in a thin mucus layer that lines the outsides of your eye’s white part. One of the most frequent eye disorders is pink eye.

Pink eye symptoms

* Redness
* Tearing
* Gritty sensation in the eye
* Itchiness
* A green or white discharge in one or both eyes, which may crust over at night
* Irritation of the eyes

What is an eye allergy?

Allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergy) is also common and has symptoms that are similar to infectious pink eye. When an allergen comes into touch with the eyes, the immune system creates histamines, which are molecules that assist the body protect itself from substances it views as hazardous.

Unlike infectious forms of pink eye, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and is frequently associated with hay fever symptoms.

Symptoms of eye allergy

* Redness
* Tearing
* A gritty sensation in the eye
* Itchiness
* Blurred vision
* Swollen eyelid

Also Read: Keep your eyes in the best shape with these simple and effective eye care tips

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eye infection
Be careful about eye infections in summer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Treatment of conjunctivitis

* Pink eye therapy is determined by the underlying cause. Symptoms may go away on their own in certain circumstances. In other circumstances, an underlying infection may necessitate therapy with topical eye drops or oral drugs.

* Cold compresses and artificial tears, both of which can be purchased over the counter without a prescription, can help reduce some of the inflammation and dryness produced by pink eye.

* You should also refrain from wearing contact lenses until your ophthalmologist (eye doctor) gives you permission to do so. If you don’t need to see an ophthalmologist, don’t put your contacts in until you’re no longer experiencing pink eye symptoms.

* Both over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications can be used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. Antihistamines, both oral and ocular drops, can help alleviate symptoms. In more severe episodes of allergic pink eye, steroids and immunotherapy may be required.

* Limiting your exposure to seasonal allergens like pollen can help you avoid allergic conjunctivitis. After touching animals, you should also practice excellent hand hygiene. Antihistamines can also be used to prevent allergic conjunctivitis in some cases.

eye infection
Avoid contact lenses if you have conjunctivitis. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Prevention of pink eye or conjunctivitis

* Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes. These are the easiest ways to prevent infectious pink eye. You can transfer bacteria or viruses that cause pink eye to your eyes by rubbing them with filthy hands.

* Old eye make-up products such as mascara and eyeliner, should also be thrown out.

* Clean your contact lenses according to your optometrist’s instructions and don’t wear them for longer than necessary.

* Last but not least, you should have frequent eye exams to ensure that any problems with your eyes are detected and treated as soon as possible.

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