How To Continue Wearing Contact Lenses With Hay Fever
Hay fever is a condition that affects millions of people in England alone. It can cause a range of symptoms, from nasal congestion to sneezing, coughing and irritated, watery eyes. The side effects of hay fever are difficult to manage at the best of times.
Hay fever is particularly irritating for contact lens wearers who have the additional problem of pollen collecting on the surface of the lens, leading to inflammation, red eyes and itching. If you’re someone who struggles with hay fever, here are some tips for how you can comfortably continue wearing your lenses.
How Does Pollen Affect Lenses?
Pollen is a common allergen and it’s something that can affect us year-round, not just in the summer as many people believe. The proteins found in grains of pollen are actually what act as the irritant, and simply by the nature of how plants pollinate, it’s designed to travel far and wide.
As a result, it’s in the air and kicked up from the ground when people walk, making it an ever-present problem for allergy sufferers – particularly in the spring and summer when flowers and trees are in bloom. Pollen can get into your eyes, nose and mouth, causing itchiness, irritation and congestion, as well as breathing difficulties, headaches and even a loss of smell. And when we wear contact lenses, the pollen can stick to the surface of the lens and cause additional irritation.
How To Wear Contact Lenses During Hay Fever Season
1. Try To Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
The first tip may be one of the most challenging in practicality, but it’s also one of the most beneficial to your eyes. When you rub your eyes, they become more irritated because the act of rubbing the delicate skin around the eyes causes micro-tears. When you’re wearing lenses, the rubbing can also move the lens and cause further issues.
While it can be difficult, try to avoid rubbing your eyes, especially when you have lenses in, to prevent inflammation and soreness. If you’re finding it too difficult to avoid this, it might be worth removing your lenses until the itching has passed.
2. Keep Your Eyes Hydrated
Humidity and a high pollen count can leave you with dry eyes, which can make wearing lenses uncomfortable. Understanding the difference between dry eyes and allergies will help you know what’s causing the irritation, so you can take the correct action in treating it, but keeping your eyes hydrated is essential to preventing soreness and redness around the eyes.
It’s beneficial to drink plenty of water throughout the day and bathe your eyes as regularly as you can to wash out any pollen – just make sure you remove your lenses first, as water is filled with bacteria that can lead to eye infections.
3. Maintain Good Lens Hygiene
Although hay fever and allergies shouldn’t prevent you from wearing contact lenses, maintaining a good hygiene process is critical. Ensure that you clean your lenses thoroughly each time you take them out – it’s worth checking with your optician as to what the best cleaning solution is for removing pollen – and clean the case you’re storing them in every day too. Disposables can be advantageous during hay fever season, as you simply throw them away after each wear.
The less dirt, pollen and dust that’s on the surface of the lens, the less irritation you’ll subject your eyes to. Eye drops are also helpful but check with your optician that they’re safe with your lenses.
4. Check The forecast
Stay up to date with the pollen forecast, especially if you know what type of pollen impacts you the most, as you’ll be able to avoid wearing lenses on these days or take extra precautions to protect your eyes. 90% of hay fever sufferers are impacted by grass pollen, but there are actually three seasons to pollen. Tree pollen is prominent from late March to mid-May, while grass pollen occurs from mid-May until July. Finally, weed pollen occurs from the end of June until September.
As you can see, for people who deal with hay fever, pollen season can span a large chunk of the year. It’s worth keeping track of when your allergies are at their worst, so you can identify the type of pollen that affects you the most. Once you know this information, you’ll be able to plan your days more effectively to minimise itching and congestion.
5. Reduce the time you’re wearing lenses
Where possible, it’s beneficial to reduce the length of time you’re wearing your lenses for, so you can alternate between contacts and glasses. If you normally wear your lenses all day, perhaps it’s worth taking them out once you return home and switching to glasses, or alternating each day between lenses and glasses until your allergies have subsided. This will give your eyes a break so they can recover and can help to minimise itchiness and inflammation.
6. Switch to glasses
On days when your hay fever is particularly bad, or the pollen count is at its highest, it can help to avoid lenses altogether and wear your glasses instead. Framed eyewear is actually helpful for hay fever sufferers, as it minimises the amount of pollen that can reach the eyes, preventing irritation. On days when you are wearing your lenses or when you can’t avoid being outside, sunglasses are also helpful to reduce the contact your eyes have with pollen and other allergens.
Hay fever can be troublesome, but in order to protect your eyes and avoid further irritation, it’s important that you take care when wearing your contact lenses. Be sure to keep your eyes hydrated, wear sunglasses when you’re outdoors and avoid rubbing your eyes so as not to dislodge your lenses or cause irritation.