Pharmacist warns against one common hay fever habit that could lead to more serious eye problems

Continuous touching of the eyes can lead to eye infections like styes, conjunctivitis, or blepharitis.

Ellie Muir
Thursday 15 June 2023 10:00 BST
<p>Hay fever is an allergy to pollen or dust</p>

Hay fever is an allergy to pollen or dust

A pharmacist has said that frequently rubbing your eyes can lead to more serious eye issues.

Symptoms of hay fever, which is an allergic reaction to pollen, include sneezing, coughing, rashes, blocked noses, headaches, and itchy red eyes meaning it is natural to want to touch and rub your eyes in moments of discomfort.

But community pharmacist Sultan Dajani, from eyecare brand Golden Eye, told The Mirror how allergies can cause more serious eye problems.

Dajani said: "When we encounter an allergen, either from inhaling, swallowing, or simply by the skin coming into contact with it, the body goes into fighting mode and the immune system overreacts to the substance.

"A protein known as IgE is produced to go after the allergen, and a chemical called histamine is released into the blood – and it is this that creates the symptoms commonly experienced.

"So, in fact when we have these types of symptoms the body is functioning and doing its job to get rid of the allergen.

"Though we need our body to react in this way, the symptoms themselves can really affect our general wellbeing, lowering our immune system and interrupting everyday activities."

Dajani explained that frequently touching our eyes can open up the possibility for further eye problems or infections such as styes, conjunctivitis, or blepharitis.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen or dust

"Our hands come into contact with most things, from people to surfaces, making it easy to transfer bacteria and germs to our faces – and if we are reaching for our eyes, it’s easy for a simple rubbing of the eyes to develop into something else."

Issues that could arise from this include a stye, which is a swollen lump on the eyelid or near the eyelashes.

Dajani explained: "People tend to get more styes during allergy season. Allergies are known risk factors for styes. With the experience of itchy eye symptoms it can feel impossible not to rub them.

One problem that could also be related to rubbing eyes is conjunctivitis, which is an infection of the eye often caused by a virus or bacteria.

Blepharitis, when oil glands near the base of the eyelashes become clogged, leading to irritation and redness of the eyes, can also be triggered by continuous touching or rubbing of the eyes, Dajani said.

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