Purpose of review: Allergic conjunctivitis is common and may be the most prominent or the only feature of allergies. Immunotherapy has been used as a primary treatment for allergies since the early 1900s. Currently the use of immunotherapy for allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is well established and has been shown to decrease the development of bronchial hyperreactivity and asthma. However, the role of immunotherapy for primary treatment of allergic conjunctivitis is unclear. We reviewed the studies where immunotherapy was used with particular attention to the affects on ocular allergies.
Recent findings: There are many schedules and methods of delivering immunotherapy. Recent studies have started to assess ocular symptoms as one of the parameters to monitor efficacy of therapy. They follow the affects of immunotherapy on conjunctival provocation tests, ocular symptoms, or the use of eye drops. The literature suggests that using the various immunotherapy modalities at different schedules, ocular symptoms improved even when immunotherapy was used on a rush schedule.
Summary: The initiation of immunotherapy for allergic rhinoconjunctivitis has been shown to switch the immune response to T helper 1 and thus avoid the progression of other atopic conditions. Current literature shows that using many allergens with different forms of immunotherapy appear to have a significant improvement in ocular allergy symptoms and this can be achieved rapidly and safely in most patients. Whether using immunotherapy early in allergic conjunctivitis will alter the progression of other atopic conditions remains to be investigated.