Hay fever: Ten tips for protecting your eyes during the pollen season

Posted: 06/04/2016 |

Spring has sprung and whilst that might mean warmer weather and longer evenings, it can also signal the start of the dreaded hay fever season. 

One in four people suffer from red and itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion problems as a result of a pollen allergy and a recent report shows that increased pollution and warmer temperatures can trap pollen in the air for longer. 

Now as experts predict this year’s pollen season could last up to nine months, hay fever sufferers can track their symptoms on the free #BritainBreathing app. Researchers will assess the results alongside other data as part of an investigation into why the rates of allergies are on the rise. 

The app will also be updated with maps on where certain allergy symptoms are more frequently reported. 

If you think you have eye allergies, here are a few things you should know to help minimise symptoms. 

1) Avoid Allergens (pollen). Try to keep your home free from pollen and allergens by keeping the windows closed and regularly dusting your home with a damp cloth and hoovering. Try using an air conditioner to filter the air and use wraparound sunglasses to help shield your eyes from allergens when you go outside. 

2) Take medication as advised by your GP or pharmasists.Treatments can include: 

- Antihistamines 

- Anti allergenic nose sprays and eye drops 

- Steroid eye drops (these can lead to serious side effects including glaucoma, cataracts and damage to the cornea)

- Decongestants 

3) Work out your pollen allergy. Different people are allergic to different types of pollen. Try tracking your symptoms and observing when you are most affected by hayfever. See the Met Office graphic for details of when the season is for each type of pollen.

4) Wash your hair and face after spending time outside. Pollen will remain in your hair and on your skin after going outside. Wash your hair and skin before going to bed to avoid irritation whilst sleeping 

5) Cut down on alcohol. Alcohol has been found to worsen hay fever as beer, wine and spirits contain histamine, the chemical that sets of allergy symptoms in your body.

6) Try to avoid being outdoors when the air is cooling or warming. The pollen count is highest from 8-10am and 5-7pm.

7) Don't rub your eyes. Try bathing your eyes in cold water instead. 

8) Treat your symptoms early. Don’t wait for your hayfever symptoms to strike. Use a nasal spray at least two weeks before symptoms appear.

9) Try to avoid wearing contact lenses in hot, dry or dusty environments. If you must wear lenses, also wear sunglasses to keep pollen away from the lenses 

10) Exercise regularly. Experts have found that people who exercise frequently have milder hay fever symptoms. If you have to exercise outside, try to do so in the late morning or afternoon when the pollen count is at its lowest.