Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are caused by specific allergens such as ragweed, grass or tree pollen. They can begin at any age.

Last Updated: April 5, 2024

seasonal allergies

What causes seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies happen when your body reacts to allergens like ragweed, grass, or tree pollen. Allergens are treated like intruders by your body. Your body releases a chemical called histamine to fight the allergens.

This histamine action is what causes symptoms like:

  • sneezing,
  • coughing,
  • nasal congestion, and
  • red, itchy, and watery eyes.

Seasonal allergies are common. Of the 25% of Canadians who reported allergies in 2017, 40% indicated they were allergic to pollen or grass.1 Seasonal allergies can start at any age and may be more pronounced in areas with poorer air quality. Symptoms may also change throughout the day, with peak pollen release occurring in the morning and early afternoon.

How can I prevent seasonal allergies?

Unfortunately, seasonal allergy symptoms can be difficult to get rid of completely. However, there are some things that you can do to manage your condition:

  1. Avoid the specific allergen you are allergic to as best as possible.
  2. Keep the windows of your home and car closed.
  3. Turn the air conditioning on.
  4. Make sure the filters in your furnace are clean.

How can I treat seasonal allergies?

Treatments to help relieve eye symptoms during allergy season include:

  • over-the-counter antihistamine pills,
  • artificial tears,
  • antihistamine eye drops,
  • prescription medication, or
  • putting a clean cloth soaked in ice-cold water over your closed eyes.

If your allergies are severe, your doctor might suggest allergy shots after running tests to figure out exactly what you're allergic to.

Seasonal allergies can make your eyes very uncomfortable. While there is no cure, various remedies can help. It is important not to diagnose and treat your symptoms yourself. Talk to your optometrist for the best advice on managing your seasonal allergies.

Video: What are the best remedies for eye allergies | Dr. Clare Halleran

1 Statistics Canada. (2018). Health fact sheet: chronic conditions, 2017. Available from:…