A short guide to hay fever

Look after your eyes and reduce the impact of hay fever
Hay fever can cause considerable discomfort for your eyes. If you suffer from hay fever, your optometrist can advise on how to reduce your symptoms and make things a little more bearable during the spring and summer.

The most common group of eye drops used to help relieve the effects of hay fever are called ‘mast cell stabilisers’. These are very effective and safe for those with hay fever symptoms that affect the eyes. However, it can take five to 14 days of use before they are most effective, so it’s important to start using these drops before your allergy kicks in.

The pollen season includes three main phases. Knowing which pollen triggers your allergy can help you to take measures to reduce symptoms. You can then take drops ahead of the period.

Pollen type Main release period Peak
Tree Hazel (Corylus) January – mid April

mid February – mid March


Yew (Taxus) January – mid April

end February – end March


Alder (Alnus) January – April

mid February – beginning of April


Elm (Ulmus) February – April

March – beginning of April


Willow (Salix) February -beginning of May

beginning of March – mid April


Poplar (Populus) mid March – beginning of May

end March – beginning of April


Birch (Betula) March – mid June

end March – mid May


Ash (Fraxinus) March – end May

April – beginning of May


Plane (Plantanus) March – May

mid March – mid April


Oak (Quercus) end March – mid June

end April – beginning of June


Pine (Pinus) beginning of April – end July

beginning of May – end June


Lime (Tilia) June – beginning of August

mid June – mid July


Grass Grass (Poaceae) May – mid September

June – July


Weed Dock (Rumex) end May – beginning of August

end June – end July


Mugwort (Artemisia) end June – mid September

end July – mid August


Nettle (Urtica) May – end September

end June – beginning of August


Oilseed rape (Brassica Napus) end March – end July

beginning of May – June


Plantain (Plantago) April – August June – mid July


Once you have identified the time period in which you need to take your drops, it’s important to remember:

  • Use the drops correctly and follow the instructions that come with the drops.
  • Ensure that you buy your drops from a reputable source, if you are buying your drops online make sure you recognise the retailer.
  • If you are taking drops correctly and still having a problem, make an appointment with your optometrist.
  • You should also review the pollen forecast daily as the dates outlined above can vary.
  • Eye drops will specifically target the symptoms of hay fever associated with the eyes. Tablets and nasal sprays can be taken to alleviate other symptoms, such as sneezing or a runny nose.
  • If you wear contact lenses make sure you tell your optometrist you get hay fever and ask them what you should do during hay fever season.