Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis
If your eyes become itchy, watery or irritated during the Spring/Summer season, it is possible that you may be suffering from seasonal allergic conjunctivitis
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is the eye's reaction to various allergens that come into contact with the eye, such as pollen.
It is one of the many symptoms of hay fever that affects approximately 20% of New Zealander's each Spring/Summer season, as the pollen levels become higher during these times.
The most common symptoms of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis are:
- itchy eyes
- watery eyes
- redness in eyes
There are a variety of treatment options that allow allergic conjunctivitis to be managed effectively - this is done best by both relieving symptoms and adding a preventative action.
Anti-histamine drops such as Zaditen are an effective, over-the-counter eye drop that provides relief from itchy, watery eyes as well as taking preventative action. This is even more beneficial when taken before symptoms even occur. We recommend using the individual, single unit doses of these drops as they are preservative free (sensitive eyes can react adversely to preservatives).
Systane Hydration is another eye drop that is great to use to flush out any allergens that get into the eye. We recommend using this several times a day to keep the symptoms at bay.
Use cold compresses to keep your eyes cool and reduce the swelling. You can use a cold, wet face cloth or, for the best effect, we recommend The Eye Doctor Hot/Cold Compress - available both online and in-store.
If you are someone that usually suffers from hay fever, our best advice is to start taking preventative action well before the season starts. This way your body will build up immunity and you won't have to suffer.
If you are someone who regularly uses contact lenses, it's best to try to reduce your wear during allergy season. But if that is not an option, try to use daily disposable contact lenses rather than monthly lenses during Spring to prevent build up of allergens being reintroduced back into the eye every day. Just cleaning your contact lenses thoroughly doesn't always remove all the allergens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it really allergies, or another eye condition?
Allergies can develop in people who have not had them before, and they can also reduce or go away over time as well. It is important to understand that symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes are normal symptoms of seasonal conjunctivitis.
What is NOT normal:
- Mucous discharge
- Blurred or unusual vision
- Associated headaches
If you are experiencing these types of symptoms, or you are not responding to conventional treatment, you need to see an optometrist or medical professional immediately.
Will just an antihistamine tablet do?
An oral antihistamine tablet can be the most effective treatment for those who have symptoms that affect multiple different body parts. Eyes, nose, ears and throats are all parts of the body that can be affected by hay fever and for some people all the targeted body parts are affected together, or for others it may only be one.
This means that sometimes an antihistamine tablet on its own may not be enough to relieve all the symptoms that you are feeling or it may only be ONE body part that is being significantly affected.
If you are taking antihistamine tablets but are still noticing symptoms in your eyes, it may be more effective to take both tablets AND use eye drops, as this allows for the treatments to get directly to the source of your symptoms.
When is the best time to start allergy treatments?
At OCULA, we are big advocates of starting allergy treatments early with prevention eye drops (Zaditen or Patanol) at least a few weeks before the allergy season starts.
This will both reduce the severity of your symptoms, resulting in less treatment being required but also less chance of complications caused by both medications and unchecked symptoms (i.e. eye rubbing!)
What are some natural treatments for eye allergies?
Some of the most effective allergy treatments are natural, at home remedies that provide instant relief to symptoms:
The Eye Doctor Compress Mask - a cold compress mask, that stays cool rather than using your typical wet face cloth.
A cold eye wash - flushing your eye with cold water allows for the allergens to be washed from your eyes.
It is important to understand and address the underlying immune system with supplements and diet modifications to better support your immune system. It is best to see an experienced natural health practitioner for advice here. We recommend:
At OCULA, our optometrists are therapeutically specialised which allows for the prescribing of various medications to combat persistent eye allergies and associated sore eyes.