Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

Please read our important medical disclaimer.

Question:
I have had allergic conjunctivitis occur in winter three years in a row now. I live in Minnesota and have had this condition every March. I recall two years ago having to leave work in late February due to itchy red eyes. I was prescribed azelastine drops last March after visiting my doc and use them daily when this pops up. Now, this year, I have had the same symptoms for the past week: red, itchy eyes during the day, foreign object sensation, clouding of vision, crusty lids upon wakening. I read that it is not common in the winter months. Only thing I can see is it could be dust mites or dander (I have cats but they do not sleep on my bed). Any ideas why this is annual and in the winter months?

Answer:
Some of your symptoms sound consistent with allergic conjunctivitis, which typically occur on a seasonal basis and most commonly in the spring season. Your symptoms occurring in the winter months might signify a less common condition called Atopic keratoconjunctivitis. This condition can occur any time of the year, but tends to be worse during the winter months. Bilateral itching tends to be the most frequent complaint from patients and they can also have watery discharge, redness, light sensitivity (photophobia) and pain. Your most recent symptoms suggest you may have also have an eye infection given the crusty lids upon awakening. Blurry vision is always of concern, which can be a result of excess tearing or an actual infection of the cornea. There are many drops available to treat these types of symptoms including artificial tears, topical antihistamine drops, topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NDSAIDs), and topical corticosteroids. I would contact your ophthalmologist immediately when eye pain or blurry vision is present and seek a consult from an allergist.

Answered by: Robert Melendez, MDDr. Robert Melendez

Categories: Eye Conditions

Have a question that hasn't been answered yet? Ask it!

Answered: Mar 27, 2013

Pop needs to be configured.