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As spring marches on, pollen counts are starting to rise. For many, that means hay fever. However, pollen isn’t the only cause for eye discomfort; dust allergies can also leave your eyes feeling worse for wear. So, what signs should you be looking out for and what can you do about these symptoms? Before we answer these questions, let’s take a closer look at what ocular allergies and hay fever are.

What does hay fever have to do with ocular allergies?

An ocular allergy describes inflammation of the surface of your eye in response to external particles called allergens. You don’t need to be outside to develop symptoms – dust mites in your home are a common trigger for ocular allergies. So, how does hay fever come into this?

Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen. For many people with hay fever, pollen triggers a condition called seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, which is one kind of ocular allergy.

What are the symptoms of hay fever and ocular allergies?

Whether your eyes have become irritated due to pollen or dust mites, you may experience eye symptoms such as:

  • itchiness
  • redness
  • soreness
  • a burning sensation
  • swelling of the eyelid
  • sensitivity to light
  • watery eyes
  • temporary blurriness

Finding relief from your symptoms

Over-the-counter antihistamines, either in the form of a nasal spray or tablets, are often used to ease symptoms. However, there are also direct treatments such as eye drops and lubricants that are more effective in some cases. We recommend that these are used as recommended by your optometrist.

It also helps to take other preventative measures. During the lockdown, when you go for your daily walk or run, or are simply enjoying the sunshine in your garden, try to wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen. When you get home, change your clothes and wash your hands to prevent pollen from outside hanging around indoors.

If you experience any symptoms of hay fever or ocular allergies, avoid wearing your contact lenses and switch to glasses until your eyes feel better. If you experience persistently red and painful eyes that do not feel better with the use of eye drops, call Jarvis Optometrist, Dundee for emergency eye care.

Due to the lockdown we have suspended routine eye care, but we are one of the dedicated Emergency Eyecare Treatment Centres for Dundee and surrounding areas, which means we still see you for acute eye care. As an Independent prescriber we can send a prescription to your pharmacy to allow treatment outside of a hospital setting. Emergency eyecare is available by appointment only, so please do get in touch by calling or emailing us if you require these services. In the mean time, stay safe and stay at home.