Have a red eye that is also itching? Be aware that your red eye may not be the conventional infectious Madras Eye, and therefore may behave differently and require different treatment.

“Over the last couple of years we have been seeing a number of cases of persons who come in with atypical presentations of red eye. Most of the cases turn out to be intense allergic reactions in the eye. Dust and pollution are the primary causes,” Amar Agarwal of Agarwal Eye Hospitals says.

“Pollution levels are going up and the human eye is under attack,” he adds. While riding, driving, or even walking outside, the eye comes into contact with these dust and soot particles.

The allergic reaction causes itching, a prickling sensation in the eye, inflammation within the eye, watery discharge, and light sensitivity.

Different reactions

Every one reacts differently to allergens, in fact, each eye can behave differently. There is no standardised process for the way an allergen can affect someone or even how intensely the body reacts, Radhakrishnan, visiting professor of Ophthalmology, Sri Ramachandra University explains. These allergens are also likely to affect the ear-nose-throat and lungs.

Every red eye, in Chennai, is erroneously seen as infective conjunctivitis. Consequently, people do not bother seeing the ophthalmologist; instead they self medicate or get over the counter drugs on the recommendation of a pharmacist, Dr. Amar says.

But this allergic reaction requires different medication than is used for Madras Eye.

What we are noticing is that this is similar to a condition called Spring Catarrh caused by pollutants in early Summer or Spring, points out Mohan Rajan of Rajan Eye Care Hospital.

Added to the increase in pollution is dry eye syndrome caused by excessive computer usage, a causative factor surely, and it also exacerbates any allergic reaction.

“It does not last for long, and can be successfully treated. However, the allergies are prone to recur, especially if you do not take precautions,” he says.

Wearing quality shades while going out, is one way of preventing repeat allergies. Do not buy dark glasses from any street vendor, cautions Dr. Amar. Controlling dryness of the eye can also help, Dr. Rajan offers as advice.


  • “Pollution levels are going up and the human eye is under attack”
  • Wearing quality shades while going out, is one way of preventing repeat allergies

  • More In: TAMIL NADU | NATIONAL