Your life and eyes 3 min read

How does hayfever affect your eyes

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It’s that time of year where the weather starts to improve, the trees begin to grow new leaves, and you find yourself needing to cut the grass more often! With spring on its way, you might find yourself starting to suffer from hayfever.

Hayfever affects a considerable part of the population and is an allergic reaction that many people suffer from due to pollen; tiny particles found on plants. Pollen can come into contact with your eyes, mouth, nose or throat and trigger an allergic reaction.

By understanding what causes hayfever and how it affects you, you can find ways to avoid its effects and reduce the symptoms.

What causes hayfever?

Man driving sneezes due to hayfever

The allergic reaction you experience is usually the body overreacting to the pollen, causing the immune system to release chemicals that prevent the spread of what the body mistakenly thinks is an infection. The chemicals are usually the cause of the major symptoms of hayfever.

Different types of pollen can cause hayfever. On the whole, the hayfever season usually runs from late-March to September; typically in line with the more delightful months of the year in regards to weather. Tree pollen is often prevalent from late-March to mid-May, followed by grass pollen that lasts from mid-May to July. The third type, weed pollen, typically appears from the end of June to September.

The most prolific form of pollen that people are allergic to is grass pollen.

How does it affect your eyes?

Hayfever can cause various forms of discomfort. In most cases, you may only experience mild symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include itchiness or irritation, watery eyes and redness.

Itchy eyes occur due to irritation from pollen landing on or near your eye. Similar to if you get a piece of dust or dirt in your eye. Once your eyes are itchy, they tend to become red as an inflammatory response, designed to fight off the irritant that has entered your eye. Redness can also occur from rubbing your eyes, which will only increase the irritation.

Irritated and swollen eyes due to hayfever symptoms

In most cases of hayfever, you will experience watery eyes; this is the body’s way of trying to flush out the irritant, by producing excess tears. While this may temporarily result in blurry vision, it will usually pass.

You may notice that you suffer from swollen or puffy eyes due to due to hayfever. The inflammation brings more fluid into the tissue areas affected. Swollen eyes could last for a little while longer than other symptoms, as it can take time for the blood vessels to reduce to their standard size.

Pollen can set off a reaction that affects the conjunctiva of your eye. The conjunctiva is the clear, thin layer that covers the front surface of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. The conjunctiva can become inflamed and be the source of your discomfort.

You might find that hayfever disturbs your vision, but the symptoms are often temporary, and it is doubtful that there will be any long-term damage.

Preventing the symptoms of hayfever

You can take several preventative measures to help avoid the allergens, mainly when the risk is high. It is worth noting that pollen is at its highest levels during mid-morning and early evening. Pollen levels also seem to fall significantly after rain.

One of the most common ways to treat hayfever is by taking anti-histamine tablets. Histamine is the main chemical released during an allergic reaction. By taking the tablets, you can combat itchy and watery eyes. Anti-histamine eye drops are also available if necessary.

If you wear contact lenses, consider switching to glasses. Your contact lenses could accumulate allergens over time, and glasses may provide a barrier to protect your eyes from pollen in the air.

It may be worth mentioning that alcohol can increase the symptoms of hayfever. If you do suffer badly from it, consider avoiding alcohol when the pollen count is high.

If you are struggling with the symptoms of hayfever, bathe your eyes in cold water regularly. Try showering and changing your clothes if you have been outside for a while; this can get rid of some of the allergens getting near your eyes.

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