Spring: flowers, sun and itchy eyes
It’s that time of year again where the evenings are getting lighter, flowers are blooming and, if you are one of the 5 million Australians suffering from hay fever*, the sneezing, itching and watering is beginning.
Although it is possible to suffer from hay fever, clinically known as allergic rhinitis, throughout the year it is most prevalent during the “haying season” – that is springtime. It occurs when one’s immune system becomes hypersensitive to certain environmental allergens present and thus overreacts causing a blocked or runny nose, and sneezing. Sufferers frequently experience watery, itchy, red eyes and occasionally swollen lids. Not the most attractive look for the Spring races – but don’t fret we are here to help!
Firstly, we advise for you to come in to see us so that we can make sure that there aren’t any other ocular problems present that can mimic the symptoms, such as chemical toxicity, skin irritations, blepharitis or dry eyes.
In terms of treatments there are solutions:
Lubricant eye drops
dilute the irritant that is present and calm inflamed eyes. It is important to use a preservative free version as the less chemicals in the eyes the better – if you’re prone to allergies.
using a face cloth or cotton makeup pads run under cold water and held gently against the closed eyelids for 5-10 minutes. The cold temperature constricts the blood vessels reducing the amount of histamine released. The result is a reduction in red puffy itchy eyes.
Allergy eye drops
specifically target the histamine that is released in response to the trigger. Some specific allergy drops have both a fast acting component and slow release mechanism of action and it is important to be prescribed the correct drop and use as prescribed.
Steroid eye drops
these are anti-inflammatory drops only available on prescription and may be necessary in severe or persistent cases.
are useful if the sneezing runny nose symptoms are the dominant feature. These can have the effect of drying out the eyes so unpreserved lubricants should be added for eye comfort and protection.
can be useful in diluting the sinus symptoms in a similar way to unpreserved eye drops on the eye.
*Roy Morgan Research (2014), Spring fever: Australia’s most allergic cities and states