Eye Irritation Due to Tree Pollen

Written by gemma argent | 13/05/2017
Eye Irritation Due to Tree Pollen
Tree pollen can cause eye irritation (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Sean McGrath)

When someone has an allergy to tree pollen, irritation of the eyes can occur. The pollination season of different trees varies, which makes the allergy season long, extending from spring to the autumn.


Eye Irritation Due to Tree Pollen
Allergies cause eyes to itch and burn (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Helga Birna Jónasdóttir)

When tree pollen is in the air, allergic people will exhibit itchy, swollen, watery and burning eyes. Generally both eyes are affected at the same time, but in some instances, one eye may have symptoms while the other does not.


The tissue surrounding the eye, the conjunctiva, has many mast cells that are part of the immune system. These mast cells trigger the release of histamine to counteract foreign substances like tree pollen, causing an allergic response in the eyes.

Common trees

Eye Irritation Due to Tree Pollen
Oaks trees produce high amounts of pollen (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Robert S. Donovan)

Some trees produce more pollen than others, causing the strongest eye irritation during the time they pollinate. A few of these trees are hickory, oak, box elder and elm.


There are some relatively effective measures to take to prevent eye irritation due to tree pollen. Stay inside during periods of high pollen count, avoid heavily wooded areas, or try a specialised filter system known as HEPA (high efficiency particulate air).


Eye Irritation Due to Tree Pollen
Eye drops can relieve symptoms (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Claire Powers)

Over-the-counter antihistamines are available to treat symptoms, but if eye irritation does not respond, a stronger medicine might be needed. An allergist can provide a stronger prescription of eye drops or medication containing antihistamine.

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