Hay fever is not caused by hay, and it doesn’t usually produce a fever!

It is a reaction (usually a stuffy, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and a stuffy head) caused by an allergy to airborne particles that you come in contact with.

Hay fever is usually associated with the onset of spring, when flowers bloom and release lots of pollen, however people who live in drier climates like the desert, can experience hay fever year round.  In drier climates it is likely to be at its worst a few weeks after any rainfall and when it becomes hot, dry and windy.


When a plant or animal substance invades your body through the membranes of your eyes, nose or throat, it can cause an immune reaction. That immune reaction is sometimes known as ‘hay fever’.

If you live in a hot, dry region like Port Augusta, or the Far North, you may think that you won’t be affected by hay fever. While many allergens are known to thrive in more humid environments, the dust that is associated with drier climates can irritate your eyes year round.

Is it Hay Fever?

Sore, itchy eyes can be one of the worst effects of hay fever.  You need to make sure that your uncomfortable eyes are a reaction to allergies, and not something else.  Dry eye syndrome can also cause red, itchy or sore eyes.

So, if your eyes are feeling gritty, sore or itchy, contact your optometrist, they can diagnose what is causing your troublesome eyes and provide the correct treatment for you.

Suggestions to get some relief

Once you’re sure hay fever is the reason for your discomfort, there are a number of ways you can get some relief.

You can gently bathe your eyes regularly with cold water to wash off any pollen.

One simple thing you can try if you wear contact lenses, is to swap them for your glasses until your symptoms reduce, and talk to your optometrist, they can advise you on the best course of action for your individual needs.

Try using a cold compress to soothe your eyes – placing a clean damp cloth over your closed eyes can reduce itchiness and inflammation. Or use an ice pack covered with a clean cloth – but make sure it’s wrapped with a number of layers and isn’t too cold, or it could burn your sensitive eye skin. If starts to get too cold, take off for 30 seconds and put it on again, then repeat process.

To reduce the allergens you encounter in your home, keep your home as clean as possible, regularly dust and vacuum or mop your floors. Frequently changing your bedding can eliminate allergens, and keep your pets out of your bedroom may also help.

When you come inside after being outside, rinse your eyes with clean cool water to wash away allergens that may have come into contact with your eyes.  Alternatively, wash face and eyelids and then use preservative free lubricants drops for your eyes.

Persistence and the right treatment from your optometrist can alleviate the discomfort caused by sore hay fever eyes.