Allergy is the fifth leading group of chronic diseases, affecting as much as 40% of the first-world population. Its pathophysiology has a genetic component, and is driven by the immune system’s sensitized response to antigens and environmental factors. As research continues to uncover the mediators responsible for ocular allergy, the development of novel drugs should progress.
A literature review of allergic conjunctivitis, ocular allergy and their treatment was performed using PubMed and Medline. Additional information is also included from clinicaltrials.gov and associated web sites for drugs currently in clinical trials.
The initial step of therapy remains identification and avoidance of allergic triggers. The mainstay of treatment is the new generation of dual-acting antihistamines. Drugs that improve the magnitude and duration of relief, with greater subject responder rates, are gradually making their way into the clinic. Allergic conjunctivitis is a relatively easy disease to study because of the availability of models such as the conjunctival allergen challenge. New classes of drugs that target inflammatory pathways or mediators involved in the early and late-phase allergic response are being screened in these models and we are making progress in identifying the next generation of anti-allergic therapy.