fbpx Book Appointment
Adelaide City Optometrist
Adelaide City Optometrist
127 Gilles Street
Adelaide, 5000
Monday - Friday
9am-5.30pm (Mon-Wed) 9am-6pm (Thurs) 9am-7pm (Fri)
08 8224 0819
Call Us

Seasonal Eye Allergies and Why We Get Them

While many of us cheer on spring, others dread it. That’s because they know they’re in for months of red, itchy and watery eyes, thanks to an inevitable spell of eye allergies.

One of the most common culprits is hay fever, known medically as allergic rhinitis. Hay fever is caused by the immune system reacting to common allergens in the environment. This includes pollen, house dust mites, moulds, and animal skin cells and fur. 1 in 5 Australians suffer from it every year.

In addition to a runny nose and sneezing, the most common symptoms of eye allergies are:

  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Gritty eyes
  • Sandy eyes
  • Blurred vision

Why Does Hay Fever Affect My Eyes?

Allergic eye reactions are caused by an organic compound, known as histamine. When you’re exposed to a substance that you’re allergic to, it is your immune system that tries to protect the body. This system starts a chain reaction that causes cells to release histamine into the bloodstream. A person suffers from hay fever symptoms, such as itchy, red and watery eyes, because the histamine acts on the eyes. Antihistamines are designed to inhibit histamines.

Many people who suffer from hay fever (nasal allergies) and eye allergies also experience associated conjunctivitis. We have seen an increasing prevalence of allergic conjunctivitis. However, there are a range of treatments available to help make eye allergies more tolerable.

Relieving Eye Allergies

There are a few approaches that you can take to aid relief from eye allergies.

Avoid Allergens

We know this is much easier said than done, but the best way to control your eye allergy symptoms is to limit your exposure to allergens. Seasonal allergies are at their peak in Autumn and Spring in Adelaide, and is renowned for its high levels of pollen in the atmosphere. On days when the pollen count is high, try staying indoors as much as possible. Peak hour for pollen is between 8 and 10am, and 5 and 7pm. Running the air conditioner to filter the air will also help.

Remove Your Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can accumulate airborne allergens. If you wear monthly or fortnightly contact lenses and have eye allergies, it might be worth considering the switch to disposable daily contacts. Designed for single, one-day use, these lenses avoid the build-up of allergens and other debris on the lens surface. If allergen symptoms persist, the best alternative is to discontinue wearing contacts until all symptoms are resolved.

Your Diet

Believe it or not, your diet can play a role in reducing the severity of eye allergies. In fact, the best source of natural relief from hay fever symptoms is pineapple. Not only is it a refreshing snack for the warmer weather, but pineapple contains bromelain – a compound found to effectively treat respiratory distress and inflammation associated with allergies. Put simply, it contains anti-inflammatory properties. While bromelain can also be found in supplement form, intake is recommended through consumption of the pineapple core or juice.

Eye Drops

Artificial tears, also known as eye drops, are formulated to relieve red, itchy and sore eyes caused by allergies. Our Optometrist’s Paul and Lisa can assess the severity of your symptoms and recommend the best eye drops, lubricants or gel for you.

Cold Compress

Although a simple, home remedy, a cold compress will help to soothe red, inflamed eyes. It is a great solution for quick relief.


Antihistamines or anti-inflammatories help to reduce allergy symptoms. In people with allergies, the body mistakes something harmless, such as pollen, for a threat. The body then produces histamine, which causes the allergy symptoms. Taking antihistamines before coming into contact with the substance you’re allergic to is a proactive approach. This helps to reduce the severity of symptoms, as opposed to taking them afterwards.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots are a form of treatment called immunotherapy. Each allergy shot will have a dose of the allergen in it to help improve your immunity and tolerance to the allergies. Over time, your body will become accustomed to the allergens and you will notice your eyes aren’t watering and you don’t have a runny nose.

Allergies All Year Round

If you suffer from eye allergies all year round, it may not be triggered by pollen. Instead, you may be suffering allergies from dust mites, pet dander (skin cells and fur), or other environmental allergens. This is where allergic conjunctivitis comes to play.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

If you happen to have allergic conjunctivitis, you will notice symptoms such as watery discharge, red eyes, and discomfort in bright lights. Usually allergic conjunctivitis lasts for a few days, and should not last longer than that. If you find that the allergic reaction is lasting longer, please book an eye appointment.

If your eyes suffer from hay fever or allergy symptoms, speak to your optometrist about treatment. Paul Fotkou will assess and diagnose your eye allergy and provide appropriate treatment to relieve it.