14 May 2018
Source: The College of Optometrists
As the UK is experiencing hot weather, and the Met office predicts pollen count levels to rise, the College of Optometrists has issued advice to those who suffer from hay fever, and how they can look after their eyes:
• Avoid your exposure to pollen, by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster.
• Wear sunglasses when outside, which may help to protect your eyes from dust and pollen.
• Visit your optometrist or pharmacist for advice and to get medicated eye drops to help alleviate itching and swelling.
• If you wear contact lenses, remember to check if you can use the drops when you are wearing your lenses. When the pollen count is very high, it can be more comfortable to wear spectacles rather than contact lenses. You may also feel more comfortable by avoiding wearing contact lenses when you are gardening, particularly when mowing the lawn, as grass particles and pollen may become stuck behind the lens and cause discomfort.
• If your eyes become dry, seek professional advice from your optometrist, pharmacist or GP. They may prescribe lubricating eye drops to ease the dryness.
The College of Optometrists has an infographic to help people identify the point at which the pollen, to which they are allergic, is most prevalent. Often people don’t realise that using eye drops before their symptoms appear can minimise the impact of hay fever on the eyes. So, if you know which type of pollen you are allergic to, you can consult the College’s infographic and take the appropriate medication ahead of time to help prevent the symptoms developing or lessen the affect.
Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MCOptom, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists, said: “Now spring has finally arrived with warmer weather, pollen levels will start to rise and many people will be affected by itchy and swollen eyes. Hay fever can cause considerable discomfort to your eyes, and eye drops are one of the ways that can easily help alleviate the symptoms. The most widespread group of eye drops used to help relieve the effects of hay fever are called ‘mast cell stabilisers’. These are effective for those with hay fever symptoms that affect the eyes, however it can take anywhere between five and 14 days before they are most effective, so to help prevent the symptoms occurring, it’s important to start using these drops before your allergy kicks in.
“Follow our top tips and use our pollen calendar to work out which pollens might be the cause of your hay fever. Next time you have an appointment with your optometrist ask them about the best ways to help your eyes during the hay fever season, your optometrist is well placed to advise on the most effective treatments and ways to keep them comfortable throughout the hay fever season.”
Hay fever is the term used when a person has an allergic reaction to pollen. It is one of the most common allergic conditions and often causes eyes to be red, itchy and swollen. It is estimated that there are more than 10 million people with the allergy in England. The most common symptoms of hay fever are itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, runny or blocked nose and difficulty breathing.