Back To News


Experts at Optical Express reveal how to combat eye-related hayfever symptoms as seasonal allergies strike

Many of us are already facing the irritating symptoms caused by seasonal allergies as the Met Office warns of a ‘pollen bomb’ hitting the nation over the coming weeks. 

That means hayfever could take hold two weeks earlier in the year than usual, experts say, with Birch pollen already releasing into the air earlier than expected.

This can cause our eyes to become inflamed, itchy, and watery for prolonged periods of time, possibly resulting in a compromised tear film, obscured vision, and considerable discomfort.

With almost half of Brits suffering from hayfever and pollen counts increasing, eye expert Stephen Hannan, Clinical Service Director at Optical Express, has shared his top tips and tricks to help alleviate some of the discomfort that eye allergies can cause.

Stephen Hannan said: “Allergic reactions are our immune system’s natural response to a substance, whether it’s pollen, food, animals, or something else. This can result in a variety of symptoms, including those that affect the eyes like redness, itchiness and swelling, which can affect our tear film and vision in some cases.

“While hayfever isn’t a serious condition, its symptoms, which include a runny nose and sneezing, can be very bothersome and irritating as you go about your daily life.

“Although there’s no cure as such, the good news is that it can be treated. Antihistamine medications are available by prescription or over the counter at your local pharmacy, and this drug stops the histamine from doing its job when it’s taken before being exposed to pollen.

“This combined with my other top tips and tricks should help manage symptoms as hayfever season arrives.”

Eye Drops

One of the first lines of defence against eye irritation is to use eye drops. There are different types and strengths that can relieve dryness and reduce itching in the area. Speak to an Optometrist to get advice on the best eye drops for you and your symptoms.


Take Antihistamines

Other medical treatments include taking antihistamines. Histamines are a part of the body’s defence system and are released when it’s faced with an allergy, such as pollen, in the body. When histamines are produced, they can cause symptoms we now come to associate with hay fever such as sneezing, coughing and runny, itchy eyes. Antihistamines can help to control these symptoms; however, they can also cause your eyes to become dry so you may need to take eye drops alongside them. 

Remove Contact Lenses

As much as we’d assume our contact lenses form a protective layer over the eyes, they can actually heighten symptoms of hayfever, especially in high pollen count periods. When experiencing symptoms, we advise taking your contact lenses out, as pollen and dust can get trapped underneath, causing concentrated exposure and therefore increased irritation to the eyes.

Wear Wraparound Sunglasses

As we remove our contact lenses and replace them with glasses, you can go one step further by replacing normal glasses with wraparound sunglasses to reduce exposure to pollen entering the eye area. We recommend making an informed decision when choosing the right pair of sunglasses, while always opting for a pair that offers UV 400 protection, as this can eliminate 97-100 per cent of UV rays.

At Home Remedies

There are other mini tips and tricks we can implement into day-to-day life which can have a considerable impact on managing symptoms. Keep your windows at home and in your car closed, use cold compresses around the eye area rather than rubbing and itching, wash your hair more regularly, whilst changing your clothing, bedding and pillowcases frequently can help alleviate symptoms and try and use anti-allergy pillows and pillowcases where possible.

Stephen said: “If you suffer from eye allergy reactions and are concerned about your eye health, book in for an examination with your Optometrist at your nearest eye health provider.

“It’s recommended that you get an eye examination every two years, however, your optometrist may advise to increase this depending on your eye examination.”

Book an eye test