Hay fever and your eyes
How to treat hay fever
There are lots of treatments available for hay fever. Different options are available for people with different symptoms.
Anything that keeps pollen out of your nose and eyes can help prevent hay fever. Glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses can reduce the amount of pollen which comes into contact with our eyes. Even staying indoors with the windows closed can help. ¹
Putting a small smear of petroleum jelly around the inside of your nostrils can trap pollen grains and stop them from getting up your nose. You can also buy nose plugs that sit just inside the nostrils and filter the incoming air. These are available in different shapes, such as circular and elongated, to fit your nostrils. Other nasal barriers include fabric or paper masks, like those worn to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Medicinal hay fever treatments
You can buy anti-allergy tablets (antihistamines) from shops or over the counter at a pharmacy. You take these daily to prevent the allergic reaction that causes hay fever. They are also effective for other allergies, like pet hair, dust mites, or mould. These other allergies can cause similar symptoms to hay fever, like swollen, red, and itchy eyes. It is better to take the tablets in advance, before exposure to pollen, rather than waiting until symptoms begin.
For children, a liquid anti-allergy medicine might be a better option if they have difficulty swallowing tablets.
You can also take nasal spray a few times a day. These don’t have to be taken in advance and can help to relieve a blocked nose quickly. Also, if you are worried about tablets making you drowsy, nasal spray is a safer alternative.
If your hay fever is severe and the tablets and sprays don’t help, your doctor may be able to prescribe something stronger. Steroid tablets or steroid nasal sprays are stronger and take several days to build up their effect. We’d recommend you start taking them before hay fever season and continue to take them daily during it.
Eye drops for hay fever can be used to treat hay fever symptoms such as sore eyes, itchy eyes, red eyes, dry eyes, or bloodshot eyes.
There are two types of anti-allergy eye drops. Sodium cromoglicate drops are useful as a preventor. Antihistamines are more useful for when our eyes become irritated due to hay fever and need some relief. These eyedrops should not be used with contact lenses. There are also soothing or moisturising eye drops which do not prevent the allergic reaction, but soothe the symptoms. These are a hay fever remedy that can be combined with a barrier method or medicinal treatment.
Other treatments for hay fever
You can also get sterile liquid eye ointments which you apply by pouring them into a little eye bath, pressing it against your face, and tipping your head back so that the ointment washes over your eye. Like the eye drops, this is a hay fever eye remedy that can soothe sore and itchy eyes.
If you are suffering from hay fever with your eyes, using an eye wash can help relieve your eyes from itching and soreness. Although tempting, you should try and avoid rubbing your eyes, even if they are itching. This only makes them more irritable.
A soothing mask can also cool your face, relieving your eyes.
If you’re a contact lens wearer, then using dailies rather than monthlies can help to relieve hay fever. This way, you will be using a fresh pair of lenses daily, reducing the amount of pollen likely to get stuck on reusable contact lenses.