Did you know that 1 in 5 people in Australia is affected by hay fever? There is nothing more annoying than coming back indoors sneezing with hay fever swollen eyes and a blocked nose. While hay fever is not a severe condition, itchy hay fever eyes can be super frustrating. Let’s get to know more about the signs of hay fever, its causes and treatment. What is Hay Fever? Also known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is a common allergy that occurs as the body’s allergic response to outdoor allergens like pollen, dust, animal fur, etc. Unlike how the name suggests, hay fever is not actually fever and is not caused by a virus. Hay fever is an exaggerated reaction of the immune system as the body mistakes pollen and other allergens for infection and leads to fever-like symptoms. Apart from nasal irritation, hay fever red eyes are one of the major symptoms of this allergic condition. The eyes become itchy, sore, inflamed, and irritated as a result of the overreacting immune system. When the body comes in contact with the allergen, the body releases histamine, causing dilation of the blood vessels. As a result, there is irritation in the nerve endings and an increased secretion of tears. Itchy hay fever eyes occur due to direct contact with pollen or other allergens. The eyes try to get rid of the foreign particle by producing more tears to flush it out. Once the eye becomes itchy, it also tends to become red due to the inflammatory reaction. Even though the discomfort and blurriness caused by this allergic condition are temporary, hay fever eyes can hamper even your simplest daily activities. While you may get busy treating your nasal allergy during hay fever, don’t make the mistake of ignoring the red, watery eyes. If not treated immediately, hay fever may worsen and cause improper sleep, worsen asthma, and could also lead to ear infections in children. Symptoms and Signs of Itchy and Swollen Hay Fever Eyes Do you often find yourself sneezing and coughing after being outdoors? In some cases, you may notice the signs of hay fever immediately after coming in contact with the allergen, in other cases it may take a day or two for it to show up. What are the symptoms of hay fever that you must watch for?

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Persistent headaches
  • Sore, irritated throat
  • Itchy dry skin that tends to blister
  • Postnasal drip

Hay fever eyes can keep you from having a normal day. Eye allergies like hay fever eyes pose little to no threat to your eyesight but they can cause temporary blurriness and annoying discomfort. Trying out some hay fever eyes home remedy can help you squirm through the day. Hay fever symptoms of the eyes include:

  • Redness of the eyes
  • Itchiness and persistent irritation in the eyes
  • Swollen eyes due to an inflammatory reaction
  • Soreness and burning sensation
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Dark, blue coloured skin under the skin
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Allergic conjunctivitis

Causes of Hay Fever Eye Conditions Hay fever eyes are mainly caused by seasonal triggers like pollen from trees, flowers and weeds but it can also be caused by other perennial outdoor and indoor irritants.  Here’s a list of allergens that can trigger hay fever eye conditions:

  • Tree pollen (during spring)
  • Grass pollen (during the end of spring and beginning of summer)
  • Weed pollen (during late autumn)
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander (might worsen up during winters when the windows are closed)
  • Spores from indoor or outdoor fungi
  • Chemical or cigarette smoke
  • Diesel exhaust particles

While it is quite unclear what causes the immune system to react to these allergens, there are several risk factors that can increase your chances of being affected by hay fever. You need to be cautious in case you have any of the following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Other allergies like eczema
  • History of hay fever allergy in the family
  • Working conditions that expose you to allergens

Hay Fever Eyes Treatment In most cases, you do not need to visit the doctor for treating hay fever. Here are a few tips and home remedies that can help you keep yourself safe from hay fever: #1: Avoid pollen season: Try staying indoors as much as possible during seasons when pollen might be on the rise. Keep your windows and doors closed and clean your indoor surfaces clean with a damp duster. Since pollen count is higher during the evening and morning, avoid going out during those hours of the day. #2: Wear sunglasses when headed out: Direct contact with pollen or other irritants can immediately trigger hay fever eyes. The best way to prevent contact is by wearing full-coverage sunglasses. Avoid wearing contact lenses. #3: Rinse your eyes: Make it a habit to rinse your eyes right after coming home. Ask your doctor to recommend a dedicated eyewash to flush out any specks of dust or pollen from the surface of the eye. #4: Use cold compress: In case you develop swollen and itchy eyes, one of the best hay fever treatments is to use a cold compress. It offers a cooling sensation that can help soothe inflammation and reduce swelling. #5: Hay fever eye drops: Anti-allergy eye drops help hay fever eyes by directly targeting the inflammation. Hay fever eye drops stabilise the mast cells that produce histamine that cause the symptoms. It would be more effective to use eye drops precooled in a fridge to help with the redness and constant irritation. You might need to visit a general physician in the following cases:

  • If you do not find relief from the signs of hay fever for a long time
  • If allergy medications do not work or cause further side effects
  • If you have pre-existing conditions like asthma, nasal polyps, or sinus infections

Post medical diagnosis, the doctor might suggest hay fever treatments like; antihistamines for a more immediate effect or steroid-based hay fever eye drops for severe cases. To learn more about hay fever eyes and related eye care tips, consult our optometrists at The Eye Lab, Melbourne.