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College of Optometrists issues hay fever advice

News posted: 09/04/2017

As the UK looks set to enjoy rising temperatures and the Met office is predicting high levels of air pollen, the College of Optometrists has issued advice to those who suffer from hay fever, which can often affect the eyes:

  • Avoid your exposure to pollen, by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster, especially at the start and end of the day when pollen levels are highest.
  • Wear sunglasses when outside, which can 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 can 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.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, clinical advisor at the College of Optometrists, said; “With an increase in temperature, we are likely to see pollen levels rise, indeed the Met office has predicted high levels this weekend. While trying to avoid pollen as much as possible will help lessen the symptoms, sufferers can also visit their optometrist to get medicated eye drops to help alleviate the itching and swelling. In terms of long-term hay fever management, 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.”

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.