The terms ocular allergy and allergic conjunctivitis are often used synonymously because the conjunctiva is often the most prominent ocular tissue involved in the allergic response. Allergic conjunctivitis is very common. One large epidemiologic study found that up to 40% of the US population has been affected at some point, according to a report in Medscape. Despite its prevalence, several myths about the clinical management of this condition persist. This article will identify these misconceptions so that clinicians can more effectively treat patients with allergic conjunctivitis.
Myth 1: Allergic Conjunctivitis Is Always Seasonal
There are several different common forms of allergic conjunctivitis: seasonal, perennial, vernal, and atopic, in addition to more rare forms.
While seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) does have the classic bimodal occurrence with symptoms peaking in the fall and spring, those suffering from perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) often experience milder symptoms year-round. Both SAC and PAC represent type 1 hypersensitivity reactions, which are characterized by an immediate release of histamine upon exposure to the allergen that is mediated by immunoglobulin E.