Hay Fever & Itchy Eyes – What’s the Solution?

Eyes feeling itchy, red, swollen? Hay fever season is upon us – London’s iconic plane trees are releasing clouds of pollen into April’s dusty air, affecting thousands of Londoners across the capital. It’s estimated that one in five Brits suffer from this allergy, but did you know that your symptoms could be worse because of the city?

A plane tree – one of the most common sources of pollen in the UK

The effects of hay fever vary person to person, with common signs including sneezing, a runny nose, an itchy throat and headaches. These symptoms can be exacerbated by pollution levels and lack of wind in urban environments, which trap pollen particles close to the ground and prevent them from dispersing.

Pollution levels and trapped pollen particles in the city can trigger hayfever symptoms

But one of the worst symptoms is sore eyes from hayfever. When pollen comes into contact with your eyes, it can irritate the surface tissues and trigger a burst of histamine release, causing them to become itchy, swollen and watery. This in turn, can result in blurred or obstructed vision with the irritation persisting for weeks or even months in some cases.  Common complaints include –

  • Allergic conjunctivitis in which a negative reaction to pollen affects the eyes’ outer lining (aka. the conjunctiva) and causes swelling.
  • Itchy eyes when the body mistakes pollen particles as harmful and releases histamine which irritates the nerves and cause itchiness.
  • Red eyes from when the blood vessels on your eyes’ surface dilate to fight off the irritant pollen. Rubbing causes more redness, so try to resist temptation!
  • Swollen eyes caused when the blood vessels in your eyes dilate, pumping more fluid to the irritated tissues, resulting in puffiness.
  • Watery eyes when your eyes respond to a pollen invasion by producing watery tears, as their mechanism to flush it out.

Although there’s no cure for hay fever, at OPTIX Opticians in the City of London our highly specialised team is well equipped to help you ease your symptoms. Whilst staying indoors during times of high pollen count is the most effective solution, we appreciate that you want to enjoy the sunshine whilst it is around.  There are a number of simple things you can do to mitigate the symptoms of hay fever –

  • Wear glasses or sunglasses outdoors to shield your eyes from pollen in the air – wraparound styles are best.


  • Avoid wearing contact lenses to prevent pollen getting trapped against your eyes’ surface.


  • Close windows and doors when there’s a high pollen count outside.


  • Clean and vacuum regularly to clear pollen from surfaces, carpets and clothes.

If you’re already suffering from the effects of hayfever and your eyes are swollen our team can advise on simple medication –

  • Anti-histamine tablets which can be taken before the symptoms of hay fever hit
  • Anti-histamine eye drops which act as a protective defence, and are also best used before high pollen season, our team can recommend the best eye drops for hayfever
  • Specialist eye washes to flush out the allergens
  • Steroid eye drops may be prescribed in extreme cases, but side effects can be serious

Also make sure to check out the latest ‘pollen forecast’ from the Met Office to help you plan around your allergy –


If your eye related hayfever symptoms are persistent, book an appointment or Dry Eye assessment at OPTIX Opticians at Broadgate with one of our highly qualified optometrists, either online or by contacting us directly by phone 0207 628 0330.