Itchy eyes: The forgotten hay fever symptom

Itchy eyes: The forgotten hay fever symptom

Hay fever, or ‘seasonal allergic rhinitis,’ affects millions of adults and young people every year. The symptoms are caused by the body’s allergic reaction to airborne pollens which are particularly prevalent in the summer months. While the symptoms can vary from one individual to another, persistent sneezing and a runny nose are amongst the most commonly reported. Itchy, irritated eyes is another very common symptom, which causes a great deal of discomfort and distraction to many hay fever sufferers. Luckily, there are steps you can take to manage and treat the itchy eye symptom of hay fever.

What is causing my eyes to itch?

Like any allergic reaction, hay fever is triggered by the body’s over reaction to a substance which it perceives to be harmful. The most common trigger is grass pollen which affects around 90% of hay fever sufferers in the UK. However, some sufferers also report allergies to tree pollen and weed pollen. These pollens can be more common throughout different times of the year, and can even vary in intensity from day to day. If you are a hay fever sufferer, it’s good to check the day’s pollen count every morning before your go about your day, so you can be prepared if necessary.

For a hay fever sufferer, the irritation of the eyes are caused by histamine which is released in the body when it comes into contact with substances such as pollen. While this is essentially the body’s ‘defence mechanism’, unfortunately, this chemical histamine irritates the eyes, causing redness, itching and watering.

How can I manage my symptoms?

Unfortunately, hay fever and itchy eyes are most commonly associated with summer time. While it might be tempting to simply stay indoors, there are many steps you can take to manage your symptoms so that you can enjoy the summer time without the distraction and discomfort of itchy eyes.

Protecting the Eyes

Sometimes prevention is the best medicine. Simple habits like wearing sunglasses outdoors can act as a barrier and protect the eyes from intruding pollens. If you’re driving, try to avoid keeping the windows open. Instead, consider pollen filters for your air conditioning so you can enjoy the summer breeze whilst minimising your pollen contact. On days with a high pollen count, try to avoid leaving doors and windows open in your home, particularly earlier in the day when pollen counts are at their highest. 

Cleansing the Eyes

When you come in from the outdoors, there may still be fragments of pollen on your skin and clothes. Before winding down for the evening, take a shower to cleanse your body and hair of any excess irritants, change into a fresh set of clothes, and cleanse the eyes using Optrex Multi Action Eye Wash.

Treat and Refresh

You can use Optrex Allergy 2% w/v Eye Drops, Solution for the relief and treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis with its active ingredient, Sodium Cromoglicate. You can also soothe itchy eyes* using Optrex 2in1 Actimist for Itchy and Watery Eyes. The pocket-sized spray can be used on the go, by applying one or two quick sprays to closed eyes without smudging your make-up. 

Hay Fever and Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses can come with its own share of discomfort, sometimes causing dryness to those who wear them. Adding hay fever to the equation can be quite uncomfortable. If possible, try to avoid wearing contact lenses in the morning or on days when the pollen count is particularly high. It can also be a good idea to wear prescription glasses during certain activities like mowing the lawn, gardening or walking in a wooded area. If you’re in need of relief on the go, try Optrex 2in1 Actimist for Itchy and Watery Eyes, which can be applied to closed eyes without the need to remove your contact lenses.

Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the perks of the summer months, but for many hay fever sufferers, the symptoms that come with it can be a nuisance. Try managing your itchy eye symptoms by following these tips, and remember to keep an eye on pollen counts, so you will always know when to be prepared.


* Itchy and watery eye symptoms due to disturbed lipid layer of the tear film

Optrex Allergy 2% w/v Eye Drops, Solution contains sodium cromoglicate.  For the relief and treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis.  Always read the label.