Tackle hay fever eye problems with early treatment
Eye Health As soon as spring arrives and the pollen season begins, those with hay fever may start to feel the familiar symptoms resurfacing. Hay fever is the collection of symptoms experiences when someone has an allergic reaction to pollen and is one of the most common allergic conditions.
It is estimated that there are more than 10 million people with the allergy in England.
Hay fever can cause considerable discomfort to your eyes, and eye drops are one of the ways that can easily help alleviate the symptoms. The most widespread group of eye drops used to help relieve the effects of hay fever are called ‘mast cell stabilisers’. These are very effective and safe for those with hay fever symptoms that affect the eyes but it can take anywhere between five and 14 days before they are most effective, so to help prevent the symptoms occuring, it’s important to start using these drops before your allergy kicks in.
Knowing which pollen triggers your allergy can help you to take measures to reduce symptoms. The pollen that causes hay fever can come from a number of different sources including; tree, grass and weed pollen. Taking drops ahead of the period in which the pollen to which you are allergic will be at its peak will be most effective in protecting yourself. The Met office publishes a pollen forecast, annually, which you can consult to predict the timeframe in which you are likely to be most sensitive. Doing so will enable you take the most appropriate medication at an earlier stage.
Once you have identified the time period in which you need to take your drops, it’s important to remember to:
- Use the drops correctly and follow the instructions that come with the drops.
- Ensure that you buy your drops from a reputable source; if you are buying your drops online make sure you recognise the retailer.
- And, if you are taking drops correctly and still having a problem with eye discomfort, make an appointment with your optometrist
As well consulting the Met Office’s forecasting, I would also give the following advice to those with hay fever:
- Avoid pollen as much as possible by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster. Wear sunglasses which can help to protect your eyes from dust and pollen.
- If you wear contact lenses, remember to check if you can use the drops while your contacts are in. When the pollen count is very high it can be more comfortable to wear your spectacles rather than your contact lenses. You may feel more comfortable by avoiding wearing contact lenses in hot, dry or dusty conditions or when you are gardening, particularly when mowing the lawn, as grass particles and pollen can become stuck behind the lens and cause discomfort.
- If your eyes become dry, seek professional advice from your optometrist, pharmacist or GP. They may prescribe lubricating eye drops to ease the dryness.