Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom
Clinical Adviser, The College of Optometrists
As one of the most common allergic conditions, hay fever can cause considerable discomfort to your eyes, making them red, itchy and swollen.
Hay fever affects over 16 million people in the UK, with some pollen triggers peaking as early as February.
While the best way to prevent hay fever is to avoid exposure to your pollen triggers, eye drops are a great way to alleviate the eye symptoms, as they target the site of discomfort directly. One of the most common group of eye drops used to help relieve these symptoms are called ‘mast cell stabilisers’. These drops can help to prevent symptoms before they start, so are a great option if you know when you are likely to develop the allergy.
Your optometrist is best placed to advise you on how to keep your eyes comfortable throughout the year.
Treating symptoms quickly
Antihistamine eye drops are another option with a more immediate effect. Although they can’t prevent the allergic reaction, they can help treat it quickly when symptoms arise.
Eye drops from both of these groups can be prescribed or purchased from your local optical practice or pharmacy on the advice of your optometrist. Prescription only eye drops which combine the above treatment effects may also be recommended depending on your needs.
Dealing with hay fever symptoms
Top tips to help manage your hay fever symptoms:
- Avoid your exposure to pollen by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster.
- Wear wrap-around style sunglasses when outside – these may help protect your eyes from dust and pollen.
- Avoid going out in the early evening and midmorning when the pollen count is at its highest.
- Rinse your eyes regularly with a dedicated eye wash to remove any dust and pollen from the surface of the eyes.
- Switch from contact lenses to spectacles.
If you want to learn more, ask your optometrist about the best ways to help your eyes during the hay fever season. Your optometrist is best placed to advise you on how to keep your eyes comfortable throughout the year.