What is Hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, typically when it comes into contact with the mouth, nose, eyes and throat. Pollen is a fine powder that is released by plants and trees and is more abundant during the warmer spring and summer months.
Symptoms of hay fever include:
Why does pollen make eyes itch?
Pollen causes the body to release histamines, chemicals produced by your body’s immune system, in the tissues around the eyes. This leads to itching, swelling, redness and watering, which is intended to help your body get rid of the pollen from your eye.
Why eye rubbing should be avoided
Rubbing your eyes is a natural reflex. It can help remove dust, encourage tear flow, and lubricate dry or itchy eyes.
When suffering from hay fever, eye rubbing might seem like a temporary relief, but it will cause more inflammation and make your symptoms worse.
Rubbing your eyes, particularly with unwashed hands, can introduce bacteria which can then go on to cause infections such as conjunctivitis or styes.
It also means you could run the risk of scratching the cornea, which is painful and can take a few days to heal.