Hay fever is a common condition that many people experience at certain times of the year, particularly in the summer. A common cause of allergic rhinitis, hay fever is an adverse reaction to pollen – a fine powder released by plants during their reproductive cycle.
Hay fever symptoms
Itchy, watery or red eyes
Blocked or runny nose
Itchiness in the back of the throat, nose and ears
How does hay fever affect your eyes?
For some people, exposure to pollen can cause their eyes to become red, itchy, irritated and inflamed. Affected eyes can be very uncomfortable and even debilitating – preventing you from enjoying warm, sunny days when the pollen count is at its highest.
As a result of these symptoms, hay fever can be problematic for contact lens wearers. If your eyes become itchy, red and watery, your vision through the contact lenses can appear ‘smeary’ and less sharp – not to mention uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Some hay fever symptoms can be confused with symptoms of COVID‑19. To ensure you know the difference, read our guide to hay fever and coronavirus symptoms here.
Hay fever treatment
If you’re a contact lens wearer
Try contact lens friendly eye drops to calm down itchiness
Wear your glasses if your eyes feel uncomfortable
Ask your optician about daily disposable lenses
For more advice about wearing contact lenses with hay fever, visit our helpful contact lenses tips page.
Eye drops and wipes for hay fever
Hay fever can cause huge discomfort to your eyes. If it’s not treated properly, many people will regularly experience itchy or dry eyes, especially during the summer months. Ask your optometrist whether they can recommend drops specifically designed to reduce your allergic reaction, there are several types of eye drops:
Eye drops for dry eyes can provide some relief by flushing pollen from the surface of the eyes.Specsavers’ range of eye drops for dry eyes are preservative‑free, relieving eye irritation and avoiding any disruption to the tear film. Our 10ml bottles of intensive eye drops are great for frequent or single‑use.
Mast cell stabilisers are anti‑allergy eye drops designed to prevent the inflammation caused by hay fever. These drops need to be taken throughout the hay fever season but not all of these drops can be used with contact lenses, remember to check first.
Antihistamine eye drops do the same job as anti‑histamine tablets do for hay fever; they don’t prevent an allergic reaction but do ease the symptoms of one. You can get these types of eye drops over the counter, but if you need drops that combine anti‑allergy and antihistamine properties, you will need a prescription.
Steroid eye drops are only used in severe cases because they need monitoring closely, as such, they are available only on prescription.
We also recommend eyelid wipes to prevent and alleviate symptoms of hay fever, and to remove pollen. Explore all of our products to help keep your eyes healthy.
How can I protect my eyes from hay fever?
While there’s no cure for hay fever, there are things you can do to mitigate the impact it has during peak pollen releases
Keep an eye on daily pollen counts so you can take necessary precautions
Shower and change your clothes after you’ve been outside
Wear wraparound glasses or sunglasses to prevent pollen getting into your eyes
Apply a small amount of Vaseline around the nostrils can help to trap pollen grains
Keep windows closed
Rinse your eyes regularly with eye wash
Use a cool compress, or pop your eye drops in the fridge, to calm irritated eyes
Go outside on days with high pollen counts wherever possible
Hang your clothes to dry outdoors
Go out mid‑morning/evening – that’s when the pollen count is much higher
Do glasses help with hay fever?
While it isn’t a cure for hay fever, wearing wraparound glasses or sunglasses while you’re out and about can help keep pollen out of your eyes and in turn reduce some of your symptoms. You also might consider switching from contact lenses to glasses during peak hay fever months if your eyes are feeling particularly sore or irritated.
When is hay fever season?
Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it’s warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.
Be allergy aware
Because it’s so common around the summer time, it’s easy to assume your symptoms may be related to hay fever. However, many people don’t realise that symptoms typically associated with allergies could also indicate other potentially serious eye conditions.
So if your symptoms become worse, or don’t go away with the help of antihistamines, it’s a good idea to come and see us.