Description of hay fever dates to as early as mid-1500s

February 15, 2004

Editor's Note: In 1896 Alexander Duane, MD, author of the Student's Medical Dictionary, defined hay fever, otherwise known as hay asthma, as "a violent acute inflammation or congestion of the conjunctiva, nasal and bronchial mucous membranes, recurring at about the same time every spring or summer in those predisposed to it. It is apparently caused by inhalation of the pollen of certain plants and relieved by migration to a locality where the pollen is not found." This definition is concise and still valid today. The history of ocular allergy, and hay fever in particular, is rich and interesting, with astute