What Is Vernal Conjunctivitis? - SightMD Skip to main content

January 17, 2022

What Is Vernal Conjunctivitis?

Zoom in of an eye ball that is red in the corner

Conjunctivitis is an infection that causes discomfort, redness, and irritation in the tissues that line the eyes. It is more commonly referred to as “pink-eye.” Most cases of conjunctivitis are caused by viruses or bacteria. Vernal conjunctivitis, on the other hand, is caused by an allergic reaction. This chronic eye inflammation initially occurs most frequently during the spring and summer months. This is due to a normal seasonal increase in allergens in the air. It can also be caused by an allergic reaction to other things, such as:

  • chlorine in swimming pools
  • cigarette smoke
  • ingredients in cosmetics.

Mild cases of conjunctivitis can be treated with cold compresses and lubricating eye drops. For more severe cases, antihistamines or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed.

Symptoms of Vernal Conjunctivitis

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • irritated, painful, itchy eyes
  • a burning sensation in the eyes
  • excessive tearing
  • swollen eyes (especially the area around the edge of the cornea where the cornea meets the sclera, or white of the eye )
  • pink or red eyes
  • sensitivity to bright light
  • blurry vision
  • eyelids that are rough, bumpy, and have white mucus (especially inside the upper lids)

The symptoms listed above are also symptoms in other eye conditions. Occasionally experiencing itchy or red eyes is not always a cause for concern. However, you should contact your doctor right away if your red eye lasts for several days, or is accompanied by eye pain or vision changes.

What Causes Vernal Conjunctivitis?

This condition is caused by reaction to allergens, such as pollen and pet dander. You are at an increased risk of developing the condition if you have a family history of allergies, especially asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis. You are also at a higher risk if you have other seasonal allergies.

Diagnosing Vernal Conjunctivitis

There are not any established diagnostic criteria or lab tests to diagnose vernal conjunctivitis. A doctor can usually diagnose vernal conjunctivitis by asking about your medical history and examining your eye.

Treatment Options for Vernal Conjunctivitis

It is very important to avoid rubbing your eyes because this causes further irritation. Most cases can be treated at home. At home remedies include:

  • lubricating eye drops
  • over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl
  • cold compresses: apply these to your closed eyes several times a day for temporary relief

Learn to identify and avoid the allergen that is causing your inflammation to avoid future irritation. Stay indoors and use air conditioning during high-allergen hours of the day during spring and summer months to help cut down on your exposure to outdoor allergens.

If your symptoms occur frequently or last longer than a few days, your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops or antihistamines. Contact SightMD today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss your vision health at one of our convenient locations!