The unexpectedly long winter may have delayed the onset of this year’s hayfever season but as the temperatures and pollen count start to rise, noses are beginning to run and eyes are starting to itch.
According to the Met Office1, the pollen season has now begun with tree pollen set to last until the middle of May. And with grass and weed pollen waiting in the wings, the UK’s one in five2 hayfever sufferers can expect to experience the frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms well into September, and even beyond.
But according to specialist eye hospital group, Optegra, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact on our eyes. Itchy, red or watery eyes (also known as allergic conjunctivitis) are key common symptoms of hayfever. Such irritation of the eyes can be a real cause of physical and emotional distress, often interfering with daily activities, work and sleep. It is important that hayfever sufferers take positive steps to reduce their exposure to pollen and the unpleasant effect it can have on the eyes.
Mr Robert Morris, Medical Director for Optegra, says: “We see all kinds of eye conditions in our hospitals, some very serious, but one thing is for sure, any condition that causes a change or irritation in the eye can have a huge impact on the individual. This is certainly true with hayfever. The persistent itchiness experienced during pollen season can be frustrating, limiting and sometimes simply unbearable.
“While pharmacists and GPs can recommend appropriate treatments, there are practical steps that hayfever sufferers can take, such as wearing wrap-around sunglasses to shield the eyes and carefully rinsing eyes on a regular basis, to help relieve symptoms and protect their eyes.”
Hayfever sufferer, Mike Sutton, age 41, comments: “Sore eyes has got to be the worst symptom of hayfever and anything that can help prevent or relieve the symptoms has to be welcomed. You can’t ignore the irritation and as a result it affects everything you do. It’s a permanent cause of distraction, both at work and at home, as the urge to really rub your eyes is always there. And if you rub your eyes, the irritation becomes even worse! It’s also something that can make you very self-conscious. Red eyes stand out like a sore thumb and hiding them behind dark glasses is not always an option, particularly at work.”
Optegra top tips for healthy eyes this hayfever season
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses to shield eyes from pollen in the air
- Try not to touch your eyes and certainly do not rub them
- Wash your hands regularly to ensure that they are pollen free, particularly if you have been outside
- Rinse your eyes regularly to ensure they are pollen free
- Keep windows and doors shut to limit pollen entering the house
- Keep car windows shut when driving – use air con instead
- Contact lens wearers should take a break from their lenses when hayfever symptoms appear
- Go make-up free when symptoms are at their worst to avoid additional irritants entering the eyes
- Avoid mowing the grass or working in the garden
- If possible, change your clothes when coming in from outside to prevent the spread of pollen within the house
- Visit your pharmacist or GP for advice on treatments for the eyes.