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EYE/OCULAR ALLERGIES: Millions of people suffer from the misery of allergies. In the U.S. nearly 50 million Americans suffer from the miseries of allergies. Allergic reactions involving the eyes are the most common complaint. An allergic reaction that affects the conjunctiva (a clear layer of skin overlying the eyes) is commonly referred to as allergic conjunctivitis. (itis = inflammation)

Allergic conjunctivitis is divided into several major subtypes, but the most common subtypes are Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC) and Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis (PAC). SAC and PAC are triggered by an immune reaction involving a sensitized individual and an allergen. This means that if you are allergic to a particular substance and then come into contact with it, you will experience an allergic reaction which usually manifests iteself with itching and sneezing. Allergic conjunctivitis is most commonly seen in areas with high seasonal allergens.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CAUSES OF EYE ALLERGIES? Ocular (eye) allergies often affect the conjunctiva, a clear layer of skin overlying the eyes. This clear layer of skin is the same type of skin that lines the inside surface of the nose. Because these two areas are so similar, the same allergens (substances that induce an allergic reaction) can trigger the same allergic response in both areas.


  • Pollen
  • Grass
  • Weeds
  • Dust
  • Pet dander

HOW WILL I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAC AND PAC? The main difference between SAC and PAC is the timing of the symptoms.

IF YOU HAVE SAC (Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis): If you have SAC, you generally have problems for a short period of time. You may be bothered in the spring by tree pollen, in the summer by grass pollen, or in the fall by weed pollen. Generally, your symptoms resolve during other times of the year, especially in the winter.

IF YOU HAVE PAC (Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis): If you have PAC, your problems probably last throughout the year. Instead of outdoor allergens, you have problems with indoor allergens, such as dust mites, cockroaches, and pet dander. Seasonal outdoor allergens may worsen your problems if you are sensitive to them as well.

WHAT SYMPTOMS SHOULD I LOOK FOR? SAC and PAC have identical symptoms, only the timing of the symptoms is different.

WITH SAC SYMPTOMS LOOK FOR: Symptoms that are generally limited to a particular season such as spring, summer or fall.

WITH PAC SYMPTOMS LOOK FOR: Symptoms that probably last all year. Almost always, the symptom of itching indicates an allergic reaction. This is true of allergic conjunctivitis, where the primary symptom is ocular/eye itching. In addition to ocular/eye itching, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Burning sensation
  • Mattering and/or mucous production

SHOULD I GO TO THE DOCTOR? If you suffer from allergies and you can identify and avoid whatever you are allergic to, your allergies should improve signficantly. If you are unable to identify or avoid the allergens, seeking care for your ocular allergies from an ophthalmologist (who is a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery) may help to make them more bearable.

If you have SAC, you may want to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist prior to the season in which you suffer from allergies in order to start treatment before your symptoms from ocular allergies begin.

If you have PAC, routine appointments with your ophthalmologist may be helpful to monitor your ocular allergies. Occasional flare-ups of your symptoms may require more frequent visits. Consultation with an allergist may be very beneficial.

DISCLAIMER: **This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.