Eye problems can be one of the most irritating symptoms of hayfever. When pollen comes into contact with your eyes, they can become inflamed, itchy and watery. Red and itchy eyes, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, can obscure your vision and cause an enormous amount of discomfort, making it difficult to concentrate on a screen or operate machinery.
Why does hay fever cause eye irritation?
Getting pollen in your eyes, is in itself irritating, but if you suffer from hayfever, your immune system overreacts to pollen and releases histamine to counter the perceived threat.
Histamine acts as an irritant and is responsible for unpleasant symptoms such as itching, swelling, redness and irritated eyes.
When trying to fight off irritants, your blood vessels work extra hard to protect your eyes. This can lead to redness (from over-dilating) and swelling.
How to treat hayfever eyes
You may not be able to prevent hayfever but there are a number of things you can do to ease your symptoms.
Protect your eyes outside
Protecting them is a great place to start. Wrap-around sunglasses will help to keep pollen from landing in your eyes when pollen counts are high.
Switch to disposable contact lenses
The surface of contact lenses can attract allergens in the air, so it’s best to wear glasses to minimise your contact with pollen, or switch to disposable contact lenses so that allergens don’t have the time to build up on the lens.
Ditch the daytime mascara
p It might be an essential cosmetic for many people, but mascara’s clingy consistency makes it a pretty good pollen catcher. Avoid mascara when pollen counts are high, or consider an eyelash tint during the hayfever season.
Use a cold compress
If your eyes are feeling particularly red and sore, a cold compress can help to calm and soothe irritation. Place a handful of ice cubes in a muslin cloth and hold against your eyelids to help reduce puffiness.
Try a natural antihistamine
Antihistamines can also help. Approximately two weeks before your usual symptoms kick in, take Luffa operculata twice daily. Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets from A.Vogel , £10.85 for 120 tablets, contain seven tropical herbs, including Luffa operculata and Galphimia glauca, to help with allergy to grass and tree pollen. They are non-drowsy and will not affect your ability to drive or use machinery.
Echinaceapurpurea taken twice daily can help to improve your body's ability to identify harmful substances correctly. Ideally you would think about taking Echinacea about two months before your known hayfever time, but it may still prove helpful even after symptoms have set in.
Soothe sore eyes with eyedrops
Wash away the irritation. Part of the reason why sensitive eyes become watery when in contact with pollen, is because they’re trying to flush out the irritation. Try A.Vogel’s Pollinosan Hayfever Eye Drops. New this season, they combine hyaluronic acid and chamomile fora soothing solution for red, burning, itchy eyes as a result of hayfever-causing allergens. Suitable for vegans and preservative-free, they can be used with contact lenses and glasses, and by children from the age of seven.
Shower before bed
During hayfever season it’s preferable to shower before bed rather than in the morning as your skin and hair are likely to be full of pollen particles from the day’s activities. Washing the day off before turning in for the night will help to keep sheets and bedding pollen-free.