5 April 2023

The College of Optometrists offers eye health tips as hay fever season kicks in

College advises how hay fever sufferers can manage symptoms and minimise effects

The Met office has forecast that the pollen count will be high over the next few days across many areas of England and Wales and with that, comes the onset of hay fever for many people. Almost ten million Britons* are affected by hay fever, and the College has issued the following advice for those suffering symptoms affecting their eyes:

  • Rinse your eyes regularly with a dedicated eye wash to remove any dust and pollen from the surface
  • Use a cold compress to provide temporary relief and help reduce inflammation of the eye. Dry eye drops that have been cooled in the fridge can have a similar effect
  • Wear sunglasses when outside – wraparound styles offer more protection from pollen
  • Switch from contact lenses to spectacles if you develop eye symptoms. Make sure you have an up-to-date pair of prescription spectacles and sunglasses
  • Avoid your exposure to pollen by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster
  • Avoid going out in the early evening and midmorning when the pollen count is at its highest.

Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser at The College of Optometrists, said: “As we enter hay fever season and people start to spend more time outside, it’s important to highlight the impact hay fever can have on our eyes, and how we can relieve the symptoms. 

“As one of the most common allergic conditions, hay fever can cause considerable discomfort, making your eyes red, itchy and swollen. While trying to avoid pollen as much as possible will help lessen the symptoms, sufferers can also visit their pharmacist to get medicated eye drops to help alleviate the itching and swelling. One of the most widespread groups of eye drops used to help relieve these symptoms are ‘mast cell stabilisers’ and can be used to prevent the symptoms before they start if you know when they might arise. If you develop eye symptoms, antihistamine eye drops can help treat the allergic reaction quickly. Your optometrist will be able to recommend which eye drops are most suitable for your needs and where you can get them from. Your optometrist is also well placed to advise on how to keep your eyes comfortable throughout the hay fever season.”

*Source: Met Office

Further information 

For patient information and advice, visit LookAfterYourEyes.org.

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