With hay fever season well and truly upon us, here’s how to tackle one of the condition’s most annoying symptoms.
While most of us will rejoice at the prospect of a sunny forecast, for some, warm, clear days spell chaos.
Why? Because an estimated 10 million of us suffer from hay fever - an allergy to pollen - and dry, warmer weather equals high pollen counts. The condition, which is scientifically known as allergic rhinitis, is known to cause symptoms such as a blocked nose, sneezing, an irritated throat and, often most annoyingly, itchy red eyes.
So with the pollen count set to soar over the next week or so, here’s how to keep your eye irritation to a minimum and continue to live your best life.
1. Use an eye wash
When the eyes of hay fever sufferers interact with pollen, our eyes water to try and wash the pollen out. You can help this process along by using an eye wash to ensure no pollen is left linger in your eyes after you’ve been outside, helping to reduce potential irritation.
2. Use antihistamine eye drops
Antihistamines are the most commonly-used treatment for hay fever. They work to reduce irritation and allergy symptoms, such as red or itchy eyes. You can get antihistamines in a variety of different forms - including creams, nasal sprays and tablets - but to reduce eye irritation, use the dedicated eye drops. You can readily pick these up over the pharmacy counter, often without a prescription.
3. Protect your eyes outside
The best way to reduce irritation is to stay inside and avoid pollen in the first place, but when that isn’t possible, protecting your eyes from direct contact is your next best option.
Wear a pair of wrap-around sunglasses when you go outside to protect your eyes from all angles.
4. Avoid contact lenses
The surface of contact lenses can attract allergens in the air, so it’s best to wear glasses to minimise the potential irritation.
If you haven’t got any glasses to hand, you can also switch to disposable contact lenses so that the allergens don’t have the time to build up on the lens.
5. Use a cold compress
Soak cotton wall buds in cold water and place them over your eyes to temporarily calm redness and irritation.
6. Seek medical advice
If your symptoms worsen significantly or you’re finding it hard to cope, seek medical advice from your GP. They’re able to advise you on the best course of action — and may even provide you with prescription-only antihistamines or steroids.
Images: Allef Vinicius on Unsplash / Getty