More than 16 million people in Britain suffer from hay fever, and the figure is expected to rise to 30 million within the next two decades. Ninety five per cent of sufferers are allergic to grass pollen, and with spring starting earlier and autumn ending later in recent years, the allergy season is lasting longer.
To coincide with the 25th anniversary of charity Allergy UK, which is campaigning to make the UK #allergyaware, David Bistacchi, store director of Specsavers Manchester Arndale and Manchester Fort, is encouraging sufferers to act now to reduce the effect of the high grass pollen count.
“Although it’s true that prevention is better than cure, we understand that staying indoors throughout summer isn’t very appealing or practical,” says David.
“There are things you can do to minimise the amount of pollen that comes into contact with your eyes when outside and some are simpler than you might think. Wearing wraparound glasses or sunglasses will help keep pollen away from your eyes. If you have a fringe, keep it off your face, as it will catch pollen and drop it into your eyes.’
David also emphasises the golden rule: never rub your eyes. “This really will only aggravate the effects of the allergic reaction further,” he says.
“You also don’t want to be caught out on the day you start to suffer. If you know that your eyes are sensitive to pollens, stock up now to ensure you have your usual eye drops ready.
“If you’ve suffered from hay fever for years and have an idea of when it will kick in, you can start using eye drops a couple of weeks in advance. This can significantly reduce the inflammation caused by airborne pollens.
“Most eye drops are designed to be used by those who wear hard or gas permeable contact lenses, or no contact lenses at all. You shouldn’t use eye drops while wearing soft contact lenses unless they are specifically formulated for that purpose.”
The pollen count is at its highest between 10.30am and 3.30pm, so hay fever sufferers who are outside between these hours will suffer the strongest symptoms.
Specsavers has stores across the region, in Ashton Under Lyne, Bury, Eccles, Fallowfield, Harpurhey, Hyde, Manchester, Manchester Fort, Middleton, Salford, Swinton and Wythenshawe.
To find your nearest store or book an appointment, go to: www.specsavers.co.uk/stores
For more information about Allergy UK visit www.allergyuk.org