Help and frequently asked questions

How can hay fever affect contact lens wearer?


Hay fever is a common condition that many people experience at certain times of the year. Also known as allergic rhinitis, it is typically triggered by substances such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mould in the home. Pollen from grass and weeds can be circulated through the air at certain points of the year. However, allergic rhinitis that is present throughout the year is usually a sign of allergens in the home.The condition often develops early in childhood, with dust mite allergies present by age two and grass pollen allergies beginning around the age of three.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms range from an itchiness in the back of the throat as well as the eyes or nose. You may experience persistent sneezes, runny or watery eyes, and a runny or blocked nose.Some people also get a reddened and pebble-like texture in the lining of their lower eyelids. Further symptoms may include headaches, sweat, nosebleeds, earaches or infections, dizziness or nausea.

How does this impact contact lens wear?

As a result of the symptoms associated with this condition, hay fever can cause some discomfort while wearing contact lenses. If your eyes become itchy, red and watery this can cause your vision through the contact lenses to become 'smeary' and less sharp. The constant watering and itchiness may make it difficult to wear your lenses comfortably for extended periods of time, and swollen eyelids may also influence your experience with the contact lenses.

What can be done to treat it?

If you suffer from hay fever, it may be more comfortable to wear daily disposable lenses. Other types of reusable lenses increase the risk of allergens or other foreign matter building up on the surface of the lens, causing further discomfort every time it is worn. On the other hand, disposable lenses mean you can start with a fresh pack every time you put on a pair. You can also choose to use your glasses during particularly sensitive periods, in order to maximise your comfort. If disposables aren't an option for you, talk to your optometrist for more advice. There are some eye drops that are specially formulated to provide temporary relief from hay fever symptoms. Make sure yours are also safe for contact lens wearers. You can also use certain medications and tablets to help prevent the allergic response from happening at all. These are most effective if taken before the onset of the symptoms, and are usually safe to use if you wear contact lenses. Make sure to talk to your optometrist if you are concerned about the effects of any medication on your contact lenses.