Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis Symptoms

Atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC) is a severe form of eye allergy that can involve the cornea of the eye as well as the inner lining of lower eyelids. AKC usually affects young adults, starting in the late teens to early twenties and can persist for decades. The majority of people with AKC also have atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and/or asthma. Severe AKC can lead to complications including cataracts, eye infections, and blindness.

Epidemic adenovirus keratoconjunctivitis Date 28 August 2014, 15:14:13
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The symptoms of AKC are initially very similar to those of allergic conjunctivitis, although much more severe and include more sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and a thick, stringy discharge. People with AKC frequently have atopic dermatitis that involves the eyelids and skin around the eyes and face. The inner lining of the eyelids, or conjunctiva, are red and swollen and may have thickened bumps called papillae. These are most frequently found under the lower lid in AKC.

Symptoms of AKC are typically year-round but you may notice a seasonal worsening in the winter and summer months. Common triggers include animal dander, dust mites, and occasionally foods.


Because AKC can affect other structures of the eye, such as the cornea, cataracts and scarring can form, and blindness can occur. People with AKC are also at increased risk for infections of the eye, including certain bacterial and herpes infections.


AKC is diagnosed in much the same way as allergic conjunctivitis, although the presence of more severe symptoms and the presence of atopic dermatitis on the face should be a clue of a more severe disease process. An ophthalmologist or optometrist may be needed to confirm the diagnosis of AKC and assist the primary physician in the treatment of the patient.


Treatment of AKC is very similar to the treatment of atopic conjunctivitis, although corticosteroids may be required more frequently in this disease. An ophthalmologist or optometrist should monitor people using steroid eye drops for any prolonged period of time, as these medications can also lead to severe side effects (such as glaucoma and cataract formation).

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, are a very effective way to treat atopic conjunctivitis and AKC. Allergy shots involve receiving injections of the allergens that a person is allergic to in order to change the body's immune response away from allergic symptoms. The end result is fewer allergy symptoms with continued exposure to the allergic trigger, and a decreased requirement for allergy medications. The benefits of immunotherapy can last for many years even after the injections are completed, provided that the person receives a minimum of 3-5 years of injections.

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