How does hayfever season affect Dry Eye sufferers?
For many of us, the joy of spring also equals hayfever season, which can mean watery, itchy eyes.
For Dry Eye sufferers, this season can be doubly difficult, as pollen allergies combined with Dry Eye symptoms can cause extra discomfort. 1
This blog explains what Dry Eye is, how allergies can affect it, and what treatment you can seek if you are suffering from chronic itchy, irritated eyes in hayfever season.
What is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry Eye Disease is a chronic condition, where patients experience itchy, gritty, irritated or watery eyes. 2 One in four people in the UK suffer from Dry Eye, and whilst it is usually not very serious, the symptoms can be frustrating and impact people’s quality of life. 3
Why can Dry Eye symptoms sometimes feel worse in spring?
Many people who suffer from Dry Eye also suffer from allergies, so there is much crossover between the two. Existing symptoms such as redness, soreness, burning or stinging, itchiness, and blurry vision are more likely to get worse in the spring when pollen allergies are most prevalent. 4
What can I do to ease the symptoms?
It may sound simple, but if you know that you suffer from pollen, dust or pet allergies, do your best to avoid irritants. Pollen allergies are hard to avoid when going outside in the spring, but checking the pollen count on apps such as Apple Weather or BBC Weather can be a good idea.
Wearing wraparound sunglasses outside during hayfever season also helps to mitigate Dry Eye symptoms. 5
Antihistamines can be a good way to minimise allergy symptoms. However, some oral antihistamines can actually dry the eyes out even further, exacerbating symptoms.6
Therefore, many experts recommend topical allergy treatments, such as antihistamine gels or eye drops, as they can reduce the irritation more effectively.
If your allergy symptoms persist and become severe, it’s a good idea to consult your GP.
- Eye drops
Eye drops can soothe eyes that are itchy and irritated from allergies and Dry Eye Disease. Artificial tears are one type of eye drop that is readily available over the counter and can help maintain moisture on the outer surface of your eyes. 7
Gel eye drops, like VisuXL Gel, can provide a thicker moisture barrier, helping to lubricate your eyes for up to 12 hours. 8 9 10
If you’re struggling with itchy, dry eyes, why not follow us on socials @dryeyeandme for tips on symptoms, lifestyle and care.
- Davis, J. A., Ousler, G. W., III, Langelier, N. A., Schindelar, M. R., Abelson, R., & Abelson, M.B. (2006, May). Seasonal changes in dry eye symptomatology. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 47(13), 280
- NHS England, ‘Dry Eyes’, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dry-eyes/, Accessed Jan 2022.
- Wimpole Eye Clinic. ‘Why Are My Eyes So Scratchy and Dry’, https://wimpoleeyeclinic.com/the-human-eyes-explained/why-are-my-eyes-so-scratchy-and-dry/
- Kumar, N., Feuer, W., Lanza, N. L., & Galor, A. (2016, August 1). Seasonal variation in dry eye. Ophthalmology, 122(8), 1727-1729
- Mangan, B Richard, ‘When Allergy and Dry Eye Collide’, Review of Optometry, https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/article/when-allergy-and-dry-eye-collide
- Ousler GW 3rd, Workman DA, Torkildsen GL. ‘An open-label, investigator-masked, crossover study of the ocular drying effects of two antihistamines, topical epinastine and systemic loratadine, in adult volunteers with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.’ Clin Ther. 2007 Apr;29(4):611-6.
- Alaina, L. ‘Artificial Tears: How to Select Eye Drops for Dry Eyes’, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/expert-answers/artificial-tears/faq-20058422 Accessed Jan 2022.
- Dresden, Danielle, ‘Some of the Best Gel Eye Drops for Dry Eyes for 2022’, Medical News Today, 13/10/21, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/best-gel-eye-drops, Accessed Jan 2022.
- VisuXL Gel Instructions For Use (IFU)
- Brancato R, Fiore T, Papucci L, et al. Concomitant Effect of Topical Ubiquinone Q10 and Vitamin E to Prevent Keratocyte Apoptosis After Excimer Laser Photoablation in Rabbits. J Refract Surg 2002; 18: 135-9.