The pollen can get in to your eyes, nose, throat and sinuses and if allergic, can cause irritation, swelling and inflammation. People can be allergic to three different types of pollen; weed pollen; that is released in late autumn, tree pollen; which is released during spring, and grass pollen; released mainly during the summer months.
A lot of people who suffer from hay fever, will also suffer from seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, which is where the pollen affects your eyes. The most common symptoms are burning, redness, itching and watering of the eyes, and puffiness of the eye lids. Visiting an eye clinic will ensure your symptoms are related to seasonal allergic conjunctivitis and not something else.
Most people who are affected by seasonal allergic conjunctivitis notice their symptoms are part of their hay fever and the cause is normally the same. Pollen from weeds, trees or grasses, lands on the eyes’ surface and activates the release of histamine, which is what causes the symptoms. The section of the eye that is mainly affected is not seen and lies underneath the eyelids. The white part of the eye (sclera) is only slightly affected and the cornea is not affected at all.
When an eye doctor is checking for seasonal allergic conjunctivitis they will note that the underside of the upper eye lid will be slightly swollen, red and sometimes bumpy. The minimal signs, alongside seasonal symptoms help the eye doctor to diagnose seasonal allergic conjunctivitis from other forms of inflammation and infection.
There are various types of treatment for hay fever and its eye symptoms and by going to an eye clinic to have an assessment will make sure you get the best treatment for your eyes. One of the most common types of treatment would be anti-histamine eye drops. These work by stopping the histamine affecting the cells in your body in the usual way.
Anti-histamine eye drops can be bought over-the-counter or on prescription and are usually quite effective. Eye drops containing mast cell stabilisers (sodium cromoglicate) are a very effective and safe way to help treat seasonal allergic conjunctivitis and work by preventing the allergic reaction. Again these can be purchased over-the-counter. If your hay fever is affecting your eyes too much your eye doctor may prescribe you steroid eye drops, these are available on prescription only due to their possible long term side effects.
Steroid eye drops have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is why they are good at treating the eye symptoms of hay fever. Be aware that overuse of antihistamine eye drops might harm your eyes and hence it is advised that in case of long term use of antihistamine eye drops we recommend that you consult your eye surgeon.