Introduction: Allergic conjunctivitis (AC) is a very common disease, especially in association with allergic rhinitis but may also occur in isolated presentation. The treatment of AC has long been based on antihistamines, cromones and topical corticosteroids, but none of these drugs completely abolishes the clinical expression of AC. Areas covered: The development of new drugs for AC is analyzed highlighting the recent insights into the pathophysiological mechanisms of the disease. The major aim of development of drugs for AC is to have agents able to prevent the inflammatory effects of the interaction between the allergen and the specific IgE antibodies on mast cell surface. This may be obtained by blocking the effects of histamine (the main mediator of early allergic response) by H1-receptor antagonists, inhibiting the release of soluble factors able to recruit inflammatory cells (that sustain prolonged inflammation) by mast-cell stabilizers, inhibiting the effects of single mediators, inducing tolerance to the allergen by specific immunotherapy or even acting on factors related to activation and differentiation of T lymphocytes such as the toll-like receptors. Expert opinion: AC is an underestimated disease for which there is a search of more effective treatments. The availability of the drugs under current evaluation will allow more refined therapeutic strategies to apply according to the characteristics and the clinical severity of AC.
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