Hayfever (allergic rhinoconjunctivitis)


Conjunctivitis means “inflammation of the conjunctiva”. The conjunctiva is the transparent ‘skin’ that covers the white part of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. There are two types of conjunctivitis—infective and allergic. Infective Conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria and viruses whereas Allergic Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva due to allergy. This occurs when the eyes come in contact with allergens like pollen, pet fur or house dust mites . It is a common disease and it is responsible for 15% of all eye-related problems as reported by GP surgeries. If allergic conjunctivitis is combined with nasal allergy, the condition is termed allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

Allergic conjunctivitis can affect the quality of life because it is usually elicited by common allergens, such as pollen and house dust mites. Our medical team provides allergic conjunctivitis treatment to children and adults in the UK.

Types of Conjunctivitis

There are four types of allergic conjunctivitis.

  • Seasonal – The most common type of allergic conjunctivitis is seasonal, where high pollen counts trigger allergic reactions. It appears during spring and summer (hay fever season). .
  • Perennial – Perennial allergic conjunctivitis lasts the entire year because of the year-round presence of the allergen. Common causes include house dust mites, which are microscopic organisms that live in furniture, carpets and beds.
  • Contact – Contact allergic conjunctivitis is caused by cosmetics, eye-drops or other chemicals that came in contact with and irritated the conjunctiva. The symptoms aren’t immediate, however, they appear two to four days after the allergen has come into contact with the eyes.
  • Papillary – Papillary allergic conjunctivitis results from wearing contact lenses.
Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment also varies from case to case. Some might require medications, such as antihistamines and anti-inflammatory eye drops. The antihistamine reduces the release of histamine, whilst eye drops either alleviate the inflammation or help dilute the allergen and wash it away.

LACK can provide prevention strategies to reduce the chances of triggering an allergic reaction:

  • Reduce the points of entry for pollen during seasons when pollen count is high. This complements your treatments for seasonal allergies.
  • Use an indoor air purifier to remove the allergens inside the home and keep indoor air quality high.
  • Keep your home clean and dust-free to avoid the proliferation of dust mites.
  • Observe proper use of contact lenses. Depending on the case, the patient should avoid contact lenses until all the symptoms have disappeared.

Allergic rhinitis is also referred to as hayfever, nasal allergy or pollinosis. This is an inflammatory disease involving the nasal passages, sinuses, throat and eyes, provoking symptoms similar to a cold (e.g. sneezing, runny nose, blocked, nasal itching). Approximately 90% of patients with rhinitis also experience ocular symptoms (tearing, itchy eyes, redness, swelling). In that case, the disease is called allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

Seasonal reaction is triggered by the pollen of specific seasonal plants. It is commonly known as “hayfever” because it is most prevalent during haying season. However, some allergic individuals suffer from hayfever throughout the year. Hayfever symptoms are likely to be worse when the number of grains of pollen in the air is high.

Pollen causing nasal allergy varies from region to region and between individuals. In general, airborne pollen is the predominant cause. This is because they are very light and can remain in the air for long periods of time. The pollen of insect-pollinated plants is too large to be carried in the air and represents no risk.