Hay fever and your eyes: How your optometrist can help

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Hay fever is a common allergic reaction to pollen, and it usually gets much worse as spring’s warm weather arrives, with plants bursting into bloom and grasses ripening.

Hay fever can cause a range of symptoms, including itchy, watery eyes.

How hay fever affects the eyes

When pollen comes into contact with your eyes, it can cause an allergic reaction. This reaction causes your eyes to produce more tears, which makes them watery. Your eyes could also react by becoming itchy, red, swollen, and irritated.

Hay fever can sometimes cause more serious eye problems:

Allergic conjunctivitis:  your eyes become red, itchy and watery, and hence bright sunlight may hurt your eyes

Vernal conjunctivitis: chronic allergic changes that lead to under the lid changes and more serious eye irritation

Blepharitis: causes your eyelids to become red, itchy and flakey.

Our Optometrist’s suggestions to get relief
  1. Rinse your eyes with clean water regularly to help remove pollen or other allergens that may be irritating your eyes.
  2. Use a cold compress or cold pack wrapped in clean cloth to reduce inflammation and soothe your eyes and eyelids.
  3. If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses for a while instead. Your lenses may have pollen adhering to them, trapping pollen and other allergic substances close to your eye, increasing the irritation.
  4. Get enough sleep, aim for around 7 or 8 hours sleep. Being well rested makes it easier for your eyes (and body) to fight off allergens.
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How your optometrist can also help
  1. Prescribe eye drops that relieve your eye irritation based on your individual symptoms.
  2. Provide advice on changes you can make to reduce your exposure to pollen and other allergens.
  3. Refer you to a specialist if you are experiencing severe symptoms that haven’t responded to treatment.

If you have hay fever and your eyes are making you uncomfortable, make an appointment with your optometrist, they will be able to help.