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Hay fever: Treating eye symptoms

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

You know when the pollen season has arrived if you suffer from itchy, streaming eyes and they look red and puffy. For those with hay fever, it can be really uncomfortable, and you feel desperate for some relief. Our pharmacist has put together some remedies to help soothe your eyes and heal your eye symptoms.

Doctor’s advice

Will antihistamines help?

Taking an oral antihistamine is a good starting point for most people since the tablets can help dry up the excess eye and nasal secretions and help if you get lots of symptoms at once.

It’s worth starting these two weeks before you anticipate the season, to prevent symptoms from coming or reduce their severity. You’ll need to know which tree or grass pollen you’re allergic to, as they come out at different times of the year – a symptom diary can help.

Be aware that double-dosing doesn’t bring added benefits, so if you’re already taking antihistamine tablets, there’s no point adding in antihistamine eye drops.

My eyes get itchy and watery

Antihistamine eye drops are one option if you're not on oral antihistamines already. They dampen down the histamine response to help ease your eye symptoms. An alternative that can work with oral antihistamines are sodium cromoglicate 2% eye drops. It’s not in the antihistamine class but works as a stabiliser of the cells that release histamine (mast cells), preventing them from releasing histamine. It works directly in the eyes to suppress allergy symptoms.

My eyes feel gritty

Other eye drops or eye soothers may help to calm and ease irritation. They don’t have any antihistamine action but serve to soothe and hydrate the eyes. They can also cleanse, washing out any allergens or irritants.

Eyelid wipes cleanse away trapped pollen trapped around the eyelids and eyelashes that can cause itchiness and irritation, preventing ongoing irritation and allergic response.

Are there any natural remedies?

Topical nasal barriers: These are drug-free nasal barriers that can be used to trap pollen around the nostril, minimising or preventing pollens from going up the nose and provoking an immune response. You could apply Vaseline around the nostrils or Haymax hay fever balm.

Drug-free nasal barrier sprays: These are inert powders or barriers that can be sprayed up the nose, to prevent or minimise pollens from triggering hay fever symptoms and preventing the release of histamine. Becodefence nasal spray is one example.

Red light therapy devices: This is another drug-free option, with the red light therapy thought to suppress the mast cells that release histamine, thereby reducing hay fever symptoms such as watery eyes and a runny nose.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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