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Vernal and atopic keratoconjunctivitis

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The medical terms are…
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (pronounced ver-nall ker-a-toe con-junk-tiv-eye-tiss and shortened to VKC) and atopic keratoconjunctivitis (pronounced ay-top-ick con-junk-tiv-eye-tiss and shortened to AKC)

But it is often called …
Allergic eye disease or eye allergy

Eye allergy causes sore, itchy and red eyes. It is a bit like eczema of the eye instead of the skin. It might affect you for a while, but most young people grow out of it.

How you see the world
Allergy of the eyes can sometimes cause blurry vision. Your eyes might feel itchy, sore or puffy.

How the world sees you
People might notice your eyes are red or swollen.

What causes it?
Allergy diseases happen when the body’s defence system is affected by harmless things like dust or pollen. In some people, it affects the breathing (asthma), the skin (eczema) or the eyes. You cannot always tell what you are allergic to.

How can the doctor tell?
The doctor can use a microscope to see the eyes close up. They can see that the eyes are red and there might be tiny bumps caused by allergy on the inside of the eyelids or round the dark part of the eye.

Examining the eyes with a microscope

Examining the eyes with a microscope

Examining the eyes with a microscope

Getting it sorted
The doctor will give you eye drops to make your eyes feel better. You might need to keep using the drops even if your eyes seem better, or the allergy could come back. You might need cream for your eyelid skin. Don’t rub or scratch your eyes – this will make things worse.

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
City Road, London EC1V 2PD
Phone: 020 7253 3411

Moorfields Direct Telephone Helpline
Phone: 020 7566 2345
Monday to Friday 09.00 to 16.30 for further information and advice.

Date Published: January 2011  Date for review: January 2013
Author: Moorfields paediatric information group

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