Allergic Conjunctivitis Linked to Worsened Pediatric Quality of Life

Recent developments at the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center at Sin Yat-sen University in China have shown that allergic conjunctivitis (AC) had a negative effect on the quality of life (QoL) of young children.

Led by Shi-yao Zhang, MD, this is believed to be the first known study to focus solely on children. The team focused on a particular age group considered the “patient population most affected by AC.”

Allergic conjunctivitis is considered one of the most common allergic diseases worldwide. There are two common types: perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC).

There is also a prevalence of vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) and atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC). Although they are rarer diseases, they are also more serious.

The study was conducted at Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center from November 16, 2019 to January 20, 2020.

A population of 92 children aged 5-18 years with allergic conjunctivitis participated in the study, while 96 children without eye disease also participated as controls. Children were divided into 4 separate groups based on disease severity: 23 children in the VKC group, 7 in AKC, 26 in SAC and 36 in PAC.

The children received slit lamp and refractive examinations, as well as evaluations of conjunctival hyperemia, papillary, and follicle formation. Corneal fluorescein staining and corneal pathological features were also evaluated and assessed.

In addition, the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, version 4.0 (PedsQL) was used to measure participants’ quality of life.

The study found a significant decrease in the quality of life of children with allergic conjunctivitis, especially in VKC and AKC groups. Patients continued to experience discomfort and other complications.

In addition, it was alarming and unexpected that the decline in quality of life among the participants was worse than previous studies of blinding diseases such as glaucoma and congenital cataracts. The study also found that unlike other blinding diseases, there are no signs of improvement over time.

The study also found a disorder in the parents of children with allergic conjunctivitis, prompting researchers to have a broader conversation with parents and doctors about treatment and prognosis.

In the study, the team urged parents to pay more attention to children’s struggles with allergic conjunctivitis.

“In addition to visual function, the eye plays a role in a person’s psychological, emotional and subconscious status,” they wrote. They also emphasized that “anxiety, depression or other psychological stress for patients and their relatives” can occur when these diseases are not properly recognized.

The study, “Association of Allergic Conjunctivitis with Health-Related Quality of Life in Children and Their Parents,” was published online in JAMA Ophthalmology.

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