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Allergic Pinkeye

Pinkeye (or conjunctivitis) from an allergy is not contagious and often occurs during the same season, year after year. A substance ( allergen ) causes a reaction in the lining of the eye that makes the eye red, swollen, itchy, and teary. Spring and fall are the most common times of the year for this kind of pinkeye to occur.

Pinkeye can be caused by many substances that come in contact with the eye, such as eye medicines (especially those containing neomycin), makeup, contact lens solution, pollens, or chemical fumes. Pinkeye caused by contact with a substance may occur in one eye only. These eye symptoms may also bother people who have other allergy-related problems, such as hay fever, asthma, and skin allergies (eczema).

Symptoms of pinkeye caused by an allergy include:

  • Redness, swelling, tearing, and itching.
  • White, stringy drainage.

You may have similar nose or throat allergy symptoms when you have allergic pinkeye.

Allergic pinkeye is usually treated at home with cold compresses and nonprescription eyedrops, such as naphazoline (Naphcon-A). If symptoms continue, a visit to a doctor is needed. Severe cases of allergic pinkeye may require treatment by an eye specialist ( ophthalmologist ) or an allergy specialist.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised November 2, 2011

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