15% of all the eye complaints that GPs have to deal with are down to allergic conjunctivitis. This is when an allergic reaction causes eyes to become red, itchy and sore. Eyes may also become swollen and start to produce too much tears or mucus, and pain may be felt as a burning sensation. An allergic reaction is when your body tries to fight off a certain substance or allergen, and this reaction by the immune system causes symptoms which can be annoying for the sufferer. Conjunctivitis is so called because the affected area is called the conjunctiva – this is the membrane (thin layer of cells) that covers the eyeball and the underside of the eyelid. Complications are rare with conjuctivitis – the problem is usually the frustration caused to the sufferer, particularly if they have the condition a lot of the time. The good news for those people
is that there are a lot of ways to treat conjunctivitis. Antihistamine eyedrops or tablets are often prescribed, these work by stopping the release of the chemical histamine that triggers an allergic reaction. You may be prescribed other eyedrops called mast cell stabilisers, these are used not for instant relief but to control the condition over a longer period of time. This annoying condition is very treatable and a visit to the GP will have most sufferers seeing clearly before too long.
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