28 March 2024

College offers eye health tips as we enter hay fever season

The College of Optometrists offers support to hay fever sufferers on managing their symptoms.

The onset of spring brings milder weather, lighter mornings and evenings, and the reappearance of leaves and flowers. For many, the accompanying increase in pollens can also mean the return of hay fever. 

It is only natural to want to spend more time outside, and to have windows open, in the spring and summer. 

For anyone who suffers from hay fever though, the spring and summer months can be challenging, so it’s important to address the impact hay fever can have on our eyes, and to understand how we can relieve any symptoms.

Almost ten million people in Britain are affected by hay fever*.

The hay fever season usually begins in late March and, for some, can last well into the autumn. 

Symptoms can include sneezing and coughing, a blocked or a runny nose, an itchy throat, mouth, nose or ears, and itchy, red or watery eyes.

The College of optometrists is issuing the following advice for people suffering hay fever symptoms that affect their eyes:

  • Try to avoid going out in the early evening and mid-morning, when the pollen count is at its highest
  • Reduce exposure to pollen by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster
  • Wear sunglasses when outside. Wraparound styles offer more protection from pollen
  • If you develop eye symptoms and are a contact lens wearer, switch to wearing spectacles until the symptoms subside. Ensure any spectacles, including sunglasses, have an up-to-date prescription
  • Rinse your eyes regularly, with a dedicated eye wash, to remove any dust and pollen from their surface
  • Use a cold compress to provide temporary relief and help reduce inflammation. Dry eye drops, that have been cooled in the fridge, can have a similar effect

Senior Clinical Adviser at The College of Optometrists, Daniel Hardiman McCartney MBE FCOptom, says:

“Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions and can cause considerable discomfort, making eyes red, itchy and swollen. While trying to avoid pollen as much as possible can help limit the symptoms, sufferers can also visit their pharmacist or arrange an appointment with their optometrist to get medicated eye drops which can help to ease the swelling and itching.

“There are many different kinds of eye drops for allergies, and your optometrist is able to recommend which eye drops are most suitable for your needs and where you can get them from. A growing number of optometrists across the UK can prescribe prescription-only eye drops for allergies when required. If symptoms have already started, antihistamine eye drops can help treat the allergic reaction quickly.”

Further information 

For patient information and advice, visit LookAfterYourEyes.org.

The College is also again sharing our eye health infographic, pollen calendar, and social media assets, to help you spread the word about the effects of hay fever on eyes and how patients can sometimes even prevent symptoms before they even start. 

Sign in to download the new infographic, pollen calendar and social media assets below.

Sign in to continue

Forgotten password?

Not already a member of the College?

Start enjoying the benefits of College membership today. Take a look at what the College can offer you and view our membership categories and rates.

Related further reading

A glance at what’s happening in the world of technology.

Eye health issues that are making the news.

Jane Veys MCOptom on reducing the tears and fears of our patients