Can Hay Fever Sufferers Have Laser Eye Surgery?

Although most of us cannot wait to say goodbye to the dark, cold and depressingly short winter days and greet spring with a warm sigh and joyful heart, for some people the season change comes with an inconvenient and unwelcome side effect… hay fever.

Depending on where you live and which pollen spores are to blame for the condition, an itchy and runny or blocked nose, sneezing and irritated eyes can be your unwelcome companions through spring and well into the summer.

Springing forward with our clocks on March 27th coincides with publicity campaigns on television for a whole range of over- the- counter medication to help sufferers cope with the miserable symptoms of allergic rhinitis. As sales of tissues soar and sneezes echo everywhere, pharmacy shelves carry displays of antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops all claiming to help relieve the symptoms.

We sufferers all know that “prevention is better than cure”, but we still wait until we are really uncomfortable before taking action.  Perhaps this is because we are eternal optimists, believing that – finally, this year it won’t happen … after a lifetime of waiting, we will have “out grown” the condition. But hay fever is cyclical and has a nasty habit of catching us unaware – sometimes even taking off several years between bouts.

“The problem with allergies is that most of us ignore them at the mild irritation stage – it’s only when it is really bad that we do something about it”, explains London Vision Clinic surgeon, Glenn Carp.

So what happens if our eyes are red and scratchy when we are booked in for Laser Eye Surgery?

Can we undergo the procedure when we are longing to rub our eyes in a vain attempt to relieve the irritation?

In short, can hay fever sufferers have Laser Eye Surgery in the spring?

“Of course, we don’t want to treat anyone who is uncomfortable with inflamed eyes”, explains Glenn, “We would always treat the symptoms first.”

Steroid and antibiotic eye drops –used to combat any possibility of infection – are part of the post surgery routine – as are eye shields to prevent the possibility of any unconscious eye rubbing at night.

“Over the first week, when the flap is starting to anchor itself down, the eyes are protected by the steroid drops.

“These are effective for at least a further week which means that patients are also getting two weeks of great protection for their eyes from hay fever. In addition, the lubricating eye drops (to prevent dry eye) help to flush out any allergens from the surface of the eye again reducing allergy stimulation – also easing the situation.”

Following surgery, most patients with this problem find that, although they might have a little bit of an allergy, they are not as sensitive as usual.  And, if this isn’t the case, anti-allergy eye drops are recommended.

People who have had Laser Eye Surgery tend to be much more aware of the state of their eyes in general.

“From time to time most of us get a bit of dry eye and a slightly grainy feeling at the end of the day. Laser Eye Surgery patients are more sensitive to their eyes and the environment and so they might start using eye drops regularly to help.”