Hayfever sufferers understand: when the seasons change and your trigger plant begins to pollinate (we’re looking at you, ragweed), you’ll do just about anything possible to avoid coming in contact with it. Hayfever can make you miserable for months, and if it affects your eyes, it makes daily living even more difficult.
The Stoggles team is familiar with how allergies affect your eyes and how important it is to protect them as much as possible from external irritants. When you’re fed up with your hay fever symptoms, you’re ready to learn how to manage it better and get relief.
Let’s cover what hay fever really is, the causes and symptoms, and how wearing safety glasses might just be the solution you never knew you needed.
What Is Hayfever?
Hayfever is really a nickname for allergic rhinitis. Rhinitis is a generic name given to cold-like symptoms you might experience without actually contracting a cold virus. Both non-allergic and allergic rhinitis is caused by allergens or irritants in the environment, not a germ or a bug.
Symptoms of hay fever include:
- Runny nose
- Sinus pressure
- Dark areas under the eyes known as allergic shiners
- Irritation and itching in the throat
- Postnasal drip
- Watery, itchy, red eyes
The issues can be exacerbated if your eyes are especially triggered by the allergen. Eyes may be watery or dry, can feel like they have sand inside them (also referred to as a gritty feeling), and can even develop infections.
Causes of Hay Fever
Because hay fever isn’t caused by germs or bacteria, we have to look at the environment for clues as to what is triggering our allergies.
Some of the most common allergens that can trigger hay fever are:
- Pollen from trees, grass, and ragweed
- Dust mites
- Insect droppings (especially from cockroaches)
- Mold and fungi spores
It’s important to note that hay fever is caused by natural allergens and not synthetic ones like pollution, smoke, or perfume. Although those irritants can trigger allergic reactions in your eyes, they don’t cause hay fever. We’ll discuss them further down.
Hayfever and Your Eyes
Your hayfever symptoms may make you miserable, but if they interfere with your vision you can experience some “next level” discomfort. Most of the time, hayfever will present in your eyes simply with redness, mild irritation, and slightly more tearing than usual. Some people, however, will experience more severe symptoms.
The conjunctiva is the thin membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and the top front portion of your eye. It covers the cornea, which is the dome-shaped portion of your eye.
The conjunctiva (along with the cornea) is part of your eye’s first line of defense. In addition to your eyelids and eyelashes, the conjunctiva protects your eye from irritants. Unfortunately, being in that defense position also means it sustains irritation more frequently.
Conjunctivitis, a fancy word for “pink eye,” refers to the inflammation and irritation of the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis is uncomfortable, itchy, and results in eyes that weep and release mucus and excess tears. Not to mention, most people find it more than a little icky.
Sometimes conjunctivitis will go away on its own. If you’ve had it for more than two to three days and symptoms aren’t getting any better, you should see your eye doctor.
Unless you’ve had seriously watery eyes, it may not seem like a big deal to have eyes that water a little more than normal. In reality, it’s a hassle. Watery eyes usually are a byproduct of itching and additional irritation.
Tearing is your body’s way of getting rid of the irritants that are bothering your eyes. As long as you’re around the irritant, there’s the potential for your eye to water. Excessive tearing can make it hard for you to wear your prescription glasses and contacts and can make it difficult for you to see, work, and play.
Conversely, you may also experience dry eyes as a result of hay fever. Dry eyes are usually accompanied by a feeling of grittiness in the eye or feeling like you’ve got sand or dirt in your eye.
Dry eyes can have you reaching for artificial tears more than you’d like, and can make it virtually impossible to wear your contact lenses. It can also lead to additional eye irritation. If your eyes aren’t producing enough tears to fully flush out irritants, they remain in your eyes and are able to cause more damage.
Issues With Contacts and Glasses
Nothing sends a contact lens wearer back to their eyeglasses faster than hay fever or allergies. Attempting to place, remove, or wear contact lenses when your eyes are suffering from allergies can be almost impossible.
Glasses wearers aren’t necessarily immune. Excessive tearing can make wearing glasses inconvenient if you need to continually remove them to wipe your eyes.
What About Other Allergens and Irritants?
Hayfever isn’t the only culprit that can cause your eyes to have an allergic reaction. Both seasonal and perennial allergens can produce hayfever. Seasonal allergies occur seasonally when something is in bloom and produces pollen.
Perennial allergens are available to irritate your eyes year-round. Dust mites and pet dander are good examples of perennial allergens.
Other irritants that can interfere with your vision and produce an allergic response include:
- Pollution and smog
- Cigarette smoke
- Smoke from fireplaces or bonfires
- Perfumes and air fresheners
There’s a wide variety of allergens just waiting to interfere with your eyesight both inside your house and right outside your door.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun are dangerous to your skin, but they’re also no good for your eyes. Exposure to UV rays can damage your vision and place you at higher risk for developing macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is the decline and damage to the macula, the structure located within your retina that is responsible for detailed, precise vision. There’s no cure for macular degeneration.
UV rays can also cause corneal burns and a condition known as photokeratitis. This condition, also known as snow blindness, happens when light rays are reflected off of a surface like water, sand, or snow. This reflection can damage your unprotected eyes. Photokeratitis can cause vision impairment, eye irritation, and in rare cases, temporary vision loss.
A not-so-distant cousin of ultraviolet light is blue light. Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum that, like UV rays, have short wavelengths and high energy. Blue light is emitted from the sun, but also from devices like televisions, computers, smartphones, and tablets. Certain types of fluorescent lighting can also produce blue light.
The big concern with blue light is our increased exposure to it through the use of electronic devices. In addition to many of us who work behind a screen, our use of smartphones and tablets rises every year, exposing our eyes to more and more blue light.
Blue light can cause eye strain, fatigue, blurred vision, and even headaches. We aren’t sure how much damage blue light can do, but we do know that blue light rays, like blue light rays, are able to pass through the cornea and lens directly to the retina. This could mean that blue light has the ability to damage retinal cells.
Why Glasses Make Sense for Hayfever
Your first inclination might be to grab your eye drops to alleviate hayfever symptoms, but what if you could do more to prevent the symptoms in the first place? Wearing glasses can place a barrier between your eyes and their irritants, and effectively reduce the number of hayfever symptoms you experience.
Not just any glasses will do. Your regular eyeglasses or your sunglasses leave your eyes vulnerable. Here’s why safety glasses make a better solution.
Side and Top Shield Protection
Notice that your regular glasses and sunglasses leave your eyes vulnerable at the top of the lenses (near your eyebrows) and on the sides (near your temples). These giant gaps allow for irritants to enter your eye area and cause irritation.
Safety glasses are made to help protect your eyes against spills, splatters, splashes, and flying objects, which is why they securely cover these areas, giving you protection. When you wear safety glasses, pollen lands on the shields, not inside your eyes.
Blue Light Blocking
A well-made pair of safety glasses will have blue light blocking lenses. Blue light exposure happens daily whether we are indoors or outdoors. If you notice your eyes feeling irritated and uncomfortable after viewing a screen for a few hours, you probably have eye fatigue.
Blue light blocking lenses, which are standard on all Stoggles glasses, protect your eyes by filtering out blue light and keeping your eyes protected from these rays.
Sure, your sunglasses offer you shade, and they’re probably UV blocking, too. However, if you have a task that requires you to be around an irritant when it’s cloudy or if you’re around an indoor irritant, you can’t wear your sunglasses.
Stoggles safety glasses are made from crystal clear polycarbonate, a material that is naturally UV blocking. Wearing Stoggles means your eyes are protected from UV rays no matter what your task or whether it is indoors or out.
We know; you’re reading this to learn how to protect your eyes from allergens that cause hay fever, not for protection from paintball bullets or sawdust. Hear us out. If you’re going to wear a pair of safety glasses, impact resistance should just be standard.
ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification ensures that the safety glasses you wear are resistant to both weighted and high-speed impact. If you think your eyes aren’t even at risk of impact, you’re kidding yourself.
Glasses that fog are annoying. We could say that again, but that too would be annoying. While anti-fog wipes and drops can help keep your glasses clear for a while, a more permanent solution is glasses that are already pre-treated with anti-fog coating.
Anti-fog coating is clear and helps ensure your glasses resist fogging from indoor to outdoor temperature changes, steam, and your own breath. Foggy glasses are a major problem, especially if you’re wearing your glasses for protection from hayfever allergens.
When your glasses fog, you have to remove them to wipe them off. This:
- Exposes your eyes to the allergens you are trying to avoid
- Causes you to be taken off task, out of the game, or away from whatever it is you were doing
Anti-fog glasses are a godsend that can keep your glasses firmly planted on your face.
Hay You, Get Stoggles!
Hayfever? Don’t worry; grab your Stoggles! Stoggles are safety glasses that protect like safety glasses and look like your favorite pair of specs. All Stoggles come standard with:
- ANSI Z87.1-2020 impact certification
- Anti-fog lenses
- Streamlined top and side shields
- Lightweight, polycarbonate material
- UV blocking lenses
- Blue light blocking lenses
- Serious style
Stoggles are available in both round and square lens shapes and in two different sizes to ensure a proper fit. With numerous color options available, you’ll never get bored, and you’ll never feel like your high school chemistry teacher.
Need corrective lenses? That’s no problem. We offer our Stoggles customized with your corrective lens prescription, which we handle in-house to save you time and money. You never have to worry about wearing safety glasses over your regular glasses again.
Allergens are everywhere. Whether you are indoors or out, protect your eyes from seasonal and perennial allergens that can cause hayfever. Stoggles are the glasses that protect your eyes and your iconic sense of style.
Hay fever - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
Eye Care Hay Fever| Look After Your Eyes | The College of Optometrists
The Sun, UV Light and Your Eyes | American Academy of Ophthalmology