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They say the eyes are the window to the soul.  If that’s the case, my windows are in need of some serious cleaning.  I’ve been walking around the past few weeks looking like a red-eyed monster.  The itching, the burning, the irritation…oh, it’s done wonders for my mood.  🙂  I had to wear my glasses (the cutest pair of bottle cap lenses they could manage) at all times because I couldn’t stand to put my contacts in.  I brainstormed a few possible culprits:  lack of sleep, allergies, infection from contact lens wear, pink eye.  Out of the four, two of them turned out to be part of my diagnosis.  It’s called Allergic Conjunctivitis.

Here’s the scoop…allergic Conjunctivitis is essentially pink eye.  But not the type you’re used to hearing about that you get from sharing eye makeup and comes with that nasty, sticky, eye gunk.  I was surprised to learn that there are three types of pink eye, or conjunctivitis:  bacterial conjunctivitis, viral conjunctivitis and allergic conjunctivitis.  Pink eye is the result of an inflamed conjunctiva, the clear membrane covering the white of the eye (sclera) and interior of the eyelids.  Though the membrane is transparent, it contains many blood vessels on the eye’s surface.  Any irritant that prompts inflammation causes the blood vessels to dilate, leading to a pink or reddish appearance.

Symptoms

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious as are bacterial and viral conjunctivitis.  Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include itching, redness, swelling, blurred vision and excessive tearing in both eyes.  You may notice other symptoms of allergies such as a stuffy, itchy or runny nose as well.  If these symptoms persist, it’s important to see an ophthalmologist, optometrist or family doctor for treatment.

Treatment

I visited my eye doctor and was quickly diagnosed with allergic conjunctivitis.  Tell tale signs during his examination were that no infection was present and there was no discharge.  Yet the conjunctiva was visibly inflamed.  While there are many methods of treating this condition, such as ocular decongestants, ocular antihistamines, Cromolyn and immunotherapy, my doctor opted for an ocular steroid to decrease the inflammation.  The ocular steroid works by limiting the body’s ability to produce an immune system reaction.  If you can’t get in to see a doctor right away, there are home remedies you could try like cold compresses and nonprescription “artificial tears”.

Allergies and sinus problems continue to be problem for me but I’m glad that I can get the problem under control.  I admit, I used to sleep in my contact lenses but not anymore.  I’m trying to avoid all added stress and irritation to my baby browns!

References:

“Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)”. 8/28/2010 <http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/conjunctivitis.htm&gt;.

“Allergy Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)”. WebMD. 8/28/2010 http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/conjunctivitis&gt;.

“Alrex Eye Drops”. 8/28/2010 http://allergies.emedtv.com/allergies/alrex-eye-drops.html&gt;.

Dr.  Bond, Michael, O.D. Personal INTERVIEW.  16 August 2010.

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