Drugs

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 208–221

Therapeutic Options in Ocular Allergic Disease

  • Melanie Hingorani
  • Susan Lightman
Review Article

DOI: 10.2165/00003495-199550020-00002

Cite this article as:
Hingorani, M. & Lightman, S. Drugs (1995) 50: 208. doi:10.2165/00003495-199550020-00002

Summary

The term ocular allergy encompasses a group of diseases in which there is a high frequency of atopy, ocular itching, stringy discharge and a papillary conjunctival reaction. Conditions confined to the lids and conjunctiva (e.g. seasonal allergic conjunctivitis) have a good prognosis but those involving the cornea may result in visual impairment (e.g. atopic keratoconjunctivitis). Mast cell and eosinophil mechanisms are important in all the ocular allergies, but T cell inflammation is prominent only in vernal keratoconjunctivitis, atopic keratoconjunctivitis and giant papillary conjunctivitis.

Therapy involves the use of antigen avoidance (where possible), nonspecific medical therapy (e.g. cold compresses, artificial tears), specific medical therapy and, in certain situations, immunotherapy and surgery.

Topical antihistamines (often in combination with a vasoconstrictor) and oral antihistamines are widely used in perennial and seasonal conjunctivitis. Levocabastine is a new preparation which is more rapid and potent. Mast cell inhibitors [e.g. sodium cromoglycate (cromolyn sodium)] have a proven track record as safe and effective therapy for all ocular allergic diseases and the newer, more potent nedocromil and lodoxamide are now available. Topical steroids are only indicated in sight-threatening disease due to their serious adverse effects and other therapy should be continued to minimise the dose required.

There is a lack of intermediate potency and high potency but safe topical preparations. A number of future possibilities exist, some of which have been partially explored. Cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors have proved of limited use, but inhibitors of lipoxygenase and kinin pathways are awaited. Although results with HEPP have been disappointing, other modulators of mast cell function (e.g. picumast, β-agonists and phosphodiesterase inhibitors) may prove useful in the future. So far, results with topical cyclosporin in serious disease are very encouraging. Future developments in the manipulation of eosinophilic products, cytokines and adhesion molecules may also be relevant. However, the current situation for those with serious ocular allergy remains a disturbing dependence upon topical steroids, with all the attendant risks.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Hingorani
    • 1
  • Susan Lightman
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital Department of Clinical OphthalmologyMoorfields Eye HospitalLondonEngland