Pollen count: showdown for the eyes

Every spring, again: A test of strength for allergy sufferers, because hardly do the first pollen fly, they itch and burn their eyes. Conjunctivitis is the diagnosis that often occurs seasonally in people suffering from hay fever. The so-called "red eye" is the most common eye disease, which in addition to allergies also many other causes, such as drafts, bacteria, viruses or general conditions can have. Why pollen allergy suffer from conjunctivitis and what helps then, read here.

The pollen season

For most pollen allergy sufferers, the period of suffering begins between February and May. As soon as spring is on the rise, the air becomes a burden for some people. Because the wind transports the pollen of early flowering plants such as hazel and alder into our respiratory tract - at the expense of people affected by hay fever. Depending on which pollen you are allergic to, the pollen season can last into September.

The allergic reaction to pollen

If the pollen in allergic persons come into contact with the mucous membranes in the nose and the airways, proteins are released in the body, which cause a defense reaction: The nose is running, you have to constantly sneeze and breathing is harder than usual.

But the eyes are often affected as well. Because the pollen not only get into the nose and respiratory tract, but also come into direct contact with the conjunctiva of the eye. However, this is not like the nose and bronchi protected by the mucous membranes, so that the conjunctiva is particularly susceptible to allergic irritation to allergic conjunctivitis by pollen.

Symptoms of irritated eyes in hay fever

Allergic reactions of the eyes can be recognized by various signs. These include:

  • itchy and burning eyes
  • watery, but at the same time often dry eyes
  • red and swollen eyes
  • Rings under the eyes
  • a foreign body sensation in the eye
  • vision problems
  • photosensitivity

What helps with acutely irritated eyes?

It is best if you try to avoid the allergens - in the case of hay fever so the pollen flying around. But since you can only spend months in the house, there are other ways to alleviate the discomfort of irritated eyes.

For slightly irritated eyes, cold compresses can help. Because they narrow the enlarged by the allergic reaction blood vessels and thus provide relief. Even drops that provide the eye with tear replacement fluid have a soothing effect.

If you have severe irritated eyes, medicines can be used for treatment, such as:

  • Vascular constricting eye drops
  • Eye drops or tablets with antihistamines
  • Eye drops or tablets with mast cell stabilizers
  • anti-inflammatory eye drops (with cortisone)

Desensitization: help in the long run

Desensitization (also hyposensitization) can reduce and even prevent allergic reactions in the long term. The person affected usually gets the allergen he is allergic to over a period of three years with increasing doses. This gradually reduces the hypersensitivity of the immune system to the allergens.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Often the cause of conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis) is an allergy. The so-called rhinoconjunctivitis (allergic conjunctivitis) is caused by a hypersensitivity to certain allergens and is usually associated with hay fever.

The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are the same as those of an allergic reaction in the eye. In addition, however, the following complaints occur:

  • Secretion of an aqueous secretion
  • glued eyelids
  • Mucus and secretions on the cornea cloud the vision

Differences to the normal conjunctivitis

A conjunctivitis caused by allergies and external stimuli is not contagious - in contrast to a bacterial or virus-induced conjunctivitis.

Especially if the symptoms appear in both eyes at the same time, it is most likely a rhinoconjunctivitis. If the signs only appear in one eye, the possibility of bacterial or viral conjunctivitis is more likely.

In case of conjunctivitis to the doctor

Since behind every conjunctivitis even serious eye diseases, such as an iris or a cataract can hide, it is important that affected with conjunctivitis necessarily consult an ophthalmologist.

For every conjunctivitis that lasts longer than 24 hours untreated or is treated incorrectly due to self-diagnosis, there is a risk that the eyes take irreparable damage. Ophthalmologists strongly recommend: Take any conjunctivitis seriously!

Causes of conjunctivitis

The "red eye" can be caused in addition to allergies and environmental stimuli, bacteria and viruses, also by injuries or other inflammations in the eye.

In any case, the various possible causes of conjunctivitis should be examined by an ophthalmologist to avoid possible long-term damage to the eye.

Warning signal conjunctivitis

Not always are the inflamed red eyes an expression of an allergic reaction or the result of pro-inflammatory environmental stimuli. Rather, the supposed conjunctivitis is often just a symptom of another eye disease.

Thus, injuries to the cornea, iris or dermis as well as inflammatory processes in other areas of the eye are often initially perceived by the affected as unpleasant, but supposedly harmless conjunctivitis and the doctor's visit once postponed.

Serious eye diseases possible

Eye pain that is perceived as deep-seated, loss of vision or a one-sided change in the pupils may signal that behind the apparent conjunctivitis is a more serious eye disease hides.

At the latest when these warning signs occur, the person concerned should consult an ophthalmologist, because the complaints of serious eye diseases are sometimes indistinguishable from those of a harmless conjunctivitis. Often, irreparable eye damage can then only be avoided if the doctor quickly initiates the correct treatment.

Special danger comes from the sudden increase of intraocular pressure, the so-called acute glaucoma attack, which can also show symptoms of conjunctivitis and is therefore often underestimated. Especially in such cases, the vision can only be saved by an immediate ophthalmological treatment.

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