Spring – we look forward to warmer sunny days and gardens bursting into flower.

But for some spring means allergies and itchy eyes.

Why does hay fever affect the eyes?

Your red, itchy, swollen eyes are a reaction to histamine, a major cause of allergic eye reactions.

Histamine is part of your immune response and triggers inflammation, causing your blood vessels to dilate. This irritates nerve endings and their reaction is to make your eyes water.

Your body’s immune system works to protect it when it’s exposed to something that you are allergic to. Part of the protection response causes cells to release histamine into your bloodstream.

Antihistamines are designed to inhibit histamines.

What are eye allergies?

If your eyes are sensitive to an irritant or an allergen, their response to that is an eye allergy.

Common substances that cause an allergic response are pollens, grass, dust mites and animal hair.

Relieving eye allergies

There are a number of steps you can take to get relief.

  1. Remove your contact lenses

Contact lenses can accumulate airborne allergens. You could consider switching to disposable daily lenses if your allergy occurs at one time of the year. Disposable lenses avoid the build-up of allergens and other debris on the lens surface.

If your allergy reaction continues, stop wearing your contacts until your symptoms have gone.

  1. Eye Drops

These drops are designed to relieve red, itchy and sore eyes.

  1. Cold Compress

A simple, home remedy that can soothe your eyes and provide quick relief.

If your eyes are causing you problems, or discomfort speak to your optometrist about how they can help you. Your optometrist will assess and diagnose your eye allergy and discuss with you how you can treat your symptoms.