Hayfever and Your Eyes

Hayfever and Your Eyes

Hay fever and its ocular effects, Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis(SAC).

Hay fever affects many people to varying degrees, with symptoms from a mild itch to full blown red eye, oedema (swelling) lacrimation (watering) and the common nasal problems such as runny nose and sneezing.

It generally begins in childhood but can develop later in life and some years are better/worse than others.

Self help tips:

Wraparound sunglasses help prevent the pollen getting into your eyes and relieve the irritation caused by bright sun on an already irritated eye.

Rinse the pollen out of your eyes with eyewash such as Optrex, and if you store it in the fridge you get a double soothing effect.

Washing hands and face prior to touching your eyes, as you will have pollen on your skin and if not washed off you introduce it straight to your eyes.

Change clothes and shower and wash your hair after being outdoors to remove pollen, and especially before bed as this will help sleep.

Keep windows closed in your car and home.

Cold compresses often help relieve symptoms by reducing swelling and is a quick and easy alternative to medications.

And if all fails, avoid going outside! When the pollen index is high, avoiding it may be the only answer.

Medical help

Mast cell inhibiting eye drops such as ‘Opticrom’ can help cure SAC and have fewer side effects than other medications such as antihistamines. A mast cell inhibitor works by reducing the release of inflammation causing chemicals (histamines) from mast cells found in the ocular tissues.

These can be bought over the counter and the active ingredient to look for is Sodium Chromoglicate.  Unfortunately, there is a delay in getting full results when using this, although you will get some relief from the rinsing effect of using the solution, ideally you need a few days of treatment to get up to full relief and then follow it through for the whole of the hay fever season. (Read instructions carefully if you are a contact lens wearer) And of course there are many over the counter oral medications that help reduce the symptoms, but best to discuss with your pharmacist.

Complications of SAC

There are no long term complications but it can have a negative impact on your quality of life, with blurred vision due to the watery eyes and irritation due to the itching.

Please call SWEENEYS OPTICIANS on 071-9169090 to arrange a consultation with our Optometrist.

You are entitled to a FREE eye examination every two years or every year if you have a change in your vision under the medical card scheme and employers PRSI scheme.

Why would you not avail of this service?