Vernal Conjunctivities

Introduction

  • Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the outermost layer of the eye. It protects the whites of the eye. It is also called ‘pink eye’ colloquially. Conjunctivitis can be caused due to two reasons- allergic reactions or bacterial or viral infections. Vernal Conjunctivitis is caused due to allergies. It is a long-term or a chronic swelling in the outer lining of the eyes.
  • Vernal Conjunctivitis mostly occurs in young males. It is also seen that people with family history of allergies (for eczema, asthma etc.) are more prone to this type of conjunctivitis. It is more likely to occur in spring and summer.
  • If a person comes in contact with the allergen, it triggers itching and irritation in the eyes. This can make the eyes watery and red, which in turn brings in Vernal Conjunctivitis.
  • Unlike infectious conjunctivitis, Vernal Conjunctivitis or allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The most common sign for the diagnosis of Vernal Conjunctivitis is the pinkish appearance of the eye. This is prominent in the conjunctiva.
  • Itchy eyes are a required symptom to diagnose Vernal or allergic Conjunctivitis. Otherwise, just red or pink eyes can suggest diagnosis of viral or infectious Conjunctivitis.
  • Also, the eyes can produce a green or a yellow discharge which may form a crust overnight.
  • Along with these signs, another prominent sign of Vernal Conjunctivitis is puffy eyes and reddening of the nose. The person may also suffer from cold or just a running nose.
  • For Vernal Conjunctivitis, the presence of the allergen in the environment is a very important sign to support the diagnosis. Thus, allergens like smog or pollution or even pollen grains during spring time should be present.
  • Different allergens may cause different symptoms. If the Vernal Conjunctivitis is due to pollution, then the person may experience itchy, red eyes. If it is caused by chemical or pollen grains, then the person may experience burning of the eyes and blurred vision.

Causes

  • Majority of the Conjunctivitis caused is due to infection by either a bacteria or virus. Thus, a lot of research on the causes of Conjunctivitis is on that caused by infection. 
  • Vernal Conjunctivitis is caused due to an allergy. Almost 30% of the cases of conjunctivitis are due to allergy.
  • Many who are allergic to certain factors or allergens are prone to this type of Conjunctivitis. The common allergens include pollen grains, dust, animal dander, air pollutants, chemicals present in the air, lead and other common chemicals.
  • Seasonal Vernal Conjunctivitis occurs due to allergens like pollens, which are present in the air only in spring. Perennial Vernal Conjunctivitis occurs due to presence of dust and mites in the house.
  • Others who have signs of allergic diseases like hay fever, eczema and asthma are highly prone to Vernal Conjunctivitis.

Prevention

  • People need to know the factors that they are allergic to, that are the allergens. Thus, by preventing contact with the allergens, they can avoid Vernal Conjunctivitis.
  • In order to avoid allergic triggers, people need to take certain precautions:
    1. They need to wear sunglasses to prevent the allergen entering the eyes. It can work as a barrier for airborne allergens.
    2. They can use hypoallergenic bedding to avoid contact with the allergens.
    3. They have to avoid contact with animals if they are allergic to the animal fur or animals on the whole.
    4. Also, they need to keep their surroundings clean to avoid contact with dust, which is one of the major triggers of Vernal Conjunctivitis.

Treatment

There are two ways of treating Vernal Conjunctivitis- Non-Pharmacological way and Pharmacological way.

Non-Pharmacological way:

  • Most of the allergens that cause Vernal Conjunctivitis are common in summer. Thus, kseep the environment cool using an air-conditioner can help getting rid of the conjunctivitis.
  • Using cool compresses regularly will also help.
  • Also, avoiding rubbing of eyes would prevent inflammation of the eyes which would help in quick recovery.

Pharmacological way:

  • Once the person knows the cause of the allergy or the allergens, he or she can take proper medications from his/her General Practitioner. These medications include:
    1. Antihistamine or non-inflammatory drops which are put into the eyes.
    2. Eye drops which prevent white blood cells from releasing the histamine.
    3. Steroids which are applied on the surface of the eye.