The Spectator


Eye Health

Managing Your Hay Fever

Do you suffer with hay fever? Almost 18 million people in the UK are affected by hay fever every year, so you are not alone.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen particles in the air, which can cause symptoms such as itchy and watery eyes, breathing difficulties and sneezing.

From March through to September, pollen is present, with different types being more prevalent at different times in the year. The most common cause of hay fever is grass pollen, present from May until August with its peak season between June and July.

Uncomfortable Eyes

Hay fever can be extremely uncomfortable, especially for your eyes as they can become itchy, irritated, watery and red. Your eyes may become itchy due to pollen landing on or near your eye, and turn red as an inflammatory response to fight off the irritant that has entered your eye. Your eyes can water due to excess tears being produced to remove the irritant from your eye. Rubbing your eyes may feel comforting at the time, however this can cause your eyes to become more irritated causing more discomfort.

Managing Hay Fever

There are several steps you can take to help reduce your hay fever symptoms.

-The pollen count is at its highest early morning and late evening so avoid going out at these times or stay indoors with the windows and doors closed.

-When you wear contact lenses, allergens can build up on the lenses. Wearing glasses instead of contact lenses will provide a barrier between the pollen and your eyes.

-After spending time outside, it is advised to bathe your eyes, shower, and change your clothes to help wash away any pollen that may be on your clothes or skin.

Treating Hay Fever

The two most common treatments for hay fever are anti-allergy eye drops and taking antihistamines. The eye drops act as a protective defence for your eyes, reducing irritation and soothing the eye. Taking antihistamines before encountering pollen can help prevent a reaction or reduce the severity of the symptoms.

If you are a contact lens wearer, please check that the eye drops are suitable for use with contact lenses. Please contact your local Eye Place for more advice on managing hay fever, contact lenses and suitable treatment.