How hay fever affects your eyes

      How hay fever affects your eyes

      We're sure you’ll be familiar with the symptoms: frequent sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and irritable, red or watery eyes. If so, you’ll be well aware of the frustration that many people feel as a result of hay fever. In this article, we’re going to look deeper into the causes of hay fever and how it affects the eyes, as well as ways to avoid hay fever and various treatments.

      What causes hay fever?

      Hay fever is the term given to the allergic reaction many people suffer from pollen, which are tiny particles found on plants. When pollen comes into contact with the cells that line a person’s eyes, mouth, nose and throat, it can trigger an allergic reaction.

      Although the immediate symptoms can come as a surprise and be quite frustrating, the allergic reaction many suffer is basically a case of the body overreacting to the pollen. This causes the immune system to release various chemicals intended to prevent the spread of what it mistakenly perceives to be an infection. The chemicals released themselves cause the aforementioned symptoms.

      There are multiple types of pollen that people can be allergic to, but by far the most prolific form is grass pollen, to which 90% of hay fever sufferers are allergic. Although it is unclear what causes the immune system to react in the way it does, several factors are known to increase your risk of suffering from hay fever, including:

      • Suffering from another allergic condition, such as asthma or eczema
      • Exposure to tobacco smoke at an early age 
      • Having other members of your family suffer from hay fever

      How does hay fever affect your eyes?

      Hay fever can cause your eyes various forms of discomfort. Primarily, it results in symptoms such as irritation and itchiness, watery eyes and redness. In more severe cases, hay fever sufferers can suffer from swollen eyelids.

      Can you avoid hay fever?

      Avoiding hay fever can simply be a case of taking preventative measures to dodge allergens when the risk is high. Grass pollen tends to be produced from mid-May to July, whilst tree pollen – which is the second biggest cause of hay fever – is produced between late March and mid-May. Weather also impacts the amount of pollen, which spreads at a prolific rate on humid and windy days. However, pollen levels are known to significantly fall as a result of rain.

      If you suffer from hay fever, it could pay to spend more time indoors, possibly with an air conditioner running in order to filter the air, when you consider there to be a high risk of pollen. It is also advised that you wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors during allergy season, in order to try to shield your eyes from allergens.

      Contact lens wearers are also advised to either wear glasses during allergy season or switch to using daily disposable lenses. This is because the contact lens surface can accumulate allergens over time.

      Treating sore and irritated eyes

      Due to the prevalence of eye allergies, such as hay fever, there are various solutions available, such as those in the Optrex range of products. These are available over the counter at your local pharmacy.

      Notably, eye drops are available that specifically fight symptoms associated with hay fever, such as irritation, redness and watery eyes.

      Alternatively, the problem can be treated at the source with the use of antihistamines, which will help to prevent the symptoms of allergic reactions from occurring. Antihistamine eye drops are available, as are oral antihistamines - but they may need to be prescribed by a doctor. Your pharmacist can advise you on this matter.

      Read more details about how Optrex Allergy Eye Drops can help relieve the symptoms of hay fever, or to explore other products in the Optrex range.


      Remember to always read the label.