Allergy eye drops can provide relief from troubling allergy symptoms, such as eye redness, itchiness, and irritation.
Eye-Related Allergy Symptoms
According to the CDC, as many as 60 million people are affected by allergies in the United States each year. According to the Asthma & Allergy Network, 1 in 5 Americans are diagnosed with allergies, and more than 50 percent say allergies affect their daily life.
If you are allergic to a substance, your body goes into high gear and releases histamines. Whether your reaction is to pollen, dust, grass, animal dander, or something else, your body produces reactions, such as itchy eyes, watery eyes, and a runny nose.
Eye allergies can be seasonal, or they may occur year-round. It is very important to figure out what is triggering the allergy, such as pollen, pet dander, smoke, mold, and dust. Sometimes, allergies can be triggered by perfume, lotions, makeup, drugs, or preservative chemicals.
Working with an allergist can help you determine the specific causes of your allergic reaction, so you can potentially limit your exposure to these allergens.
How Allergy Eye Drops Work
Allergy eye drops can be a quick way to block the body’s overreaction to allergens. Typically, the main ingredient in eye drops is an antihistamine, such as pheniramine or naphazoline.
Some drops contain long-acting antihistamines, such as ketotifen or olopatadine. These help by preventing your body from producing histamines.
Some allergy eye drops combine antihistamines with a mast-cell stabilizer, which helps block the body’s reaction to allergens. Depending on which drop you use, you may need to use them one, two, four, or more times a day.
10 Best Allergy Eye Drops
While there is no shortage of eye drops on the market, you want to choose one that is specifically designed to treat allergies. Here are 10 of the best allergy eye drops available:
Type: Mast cell stabilizers and antihistamine
Price: About $15
Pataday is considered one of the best overall allergy eye drops due to its ease of once-per-day dosing. The drops offer relief for 24 hours. These eye drops were previously only available by prescription, but they are now available over the counter (OTC).
Type: Mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine
Price: About $12
Alaway may inhibit vascular permeability, and it may be useful in preventing inflamed conjunctiva. Alaway is often half the price of the formulation of a comparable drop, ZADITOR.
Type: Mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine
Price: About $22 for a pack of two
These eye drops may inhibit vascular permeability and help to prevent inflamed conjunctiva. The usual dosage is two times daily. These drops were originally only available by prescription but are now available over the counter.
Type: Mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine
Price: Over $300 without insurance
BEPREVE is typically prescribed to reduce sinus congestion and provide symptomatic relief. While these eye drops are not available over the counter, you may be able to get a prescription and utilize a coupon with your copay. Your insurance provider may also cover a large portion of the cost.
Type: Antihistamine and redness relief
Price: About $9
These eye drops are a convenient choice to relieve red, itchy eyes due to common allergens. The A formula is specific for allergies and may provide temporary relief from red eyes.
Price: About $14
These eye drops are popular for relief from red and itchy eyes. These often give users fast-acting relief.
Type: Decongestant and antihistamine
Price: About $11
Think of this as a one-two punch to relieve symptoms. These eye drops offer a decongestant to reduce eye redness plus an antihistamine to reduce allergic symptoms, such as itchy and watery eyes.
Type: Natural botanicals
Price: About $7
These homeopathic drops offer a natural approach to stimulating your body’s defenses against allergies. There are no chemicals, only natural botanical extracts. This Swiss brand of homeopathic eye drops uses natural ingredients such as eyebright, not chemicals.
Type: lubricant and redness relief
Price: About $18 for a pack of three
These drops offer relief from watery eyes. In addition, the formula targets common allergy symptoms, such as redness, dryness, and itchiness.
Type: multi-symptom relief
Price: About $16
These drops offer a sensation of cooling relief and target multiple symptoms, including itchy, red, and watery eyes.
How Allergy Eye Drops Help With Allergies
If you have allergies, allergy eye drops can help to reduce and relieve symptoms. They don’t address the underlying cause, so you’ll need to determine what is triggering your allergies and try to limit exposure to those allergens.
Allergy eye drops work by blocking the body’s histamine response. Newer drops may last longer, as they prevent the release of histamines. These drops usually contain olopatadine or ketotifen.
Types of Allergy Eye Drops
Allergy eye drops are available in over-the-counter and prescription options.
Over-the-Counter Eye Drops
You can find over-the-counter eye drops at most pharmacies, drug stores, and grocery stores as well as online.
These drops are often compared to substitute tears. They may be useful to wash allergens from the eye and provide moisture.
Artificial tears can be used temporarily to provide relief after exposure to allergens. If you refrigerate the drops, they may provide additional comfort to red, irritated eyes.
Decongestant Eye Drops
These eye drops can reduce some allergy symptoms. They may be available as a decongestant only or in combination with an OTC antihistamine, which also provides relief from itching.
Decongestant eye drops should not be used for more than two to three days, as they can increase irritation.
Prescription Eye Drops
You need to see a doctor to get a prescription for these drops.
Antihistamine Eye Drops
Prescription antihistamine eye drops can provide quick relief for itchiness, redness, and swelling. The effect may be relatively short-lived, such as for a few hours, which is why some require application four times daily.
Mast Cell Stabilizer Eye Drops
Mast cell stabilizer eye drops work a little differently by preventing the release of histamine and substances that cause the body to create allergic symptoms. These drops should ideally be used before you are exposed to allergens in order to prevent itchy eyes.
Combo Eye Drops
Some new eye drop formulas combine antihistamines with mast cell stabilizers. These eye drops may require less frequent application, such as two times a day. They can offer quick relief as well as long-lasting relief.
NSAID Eye Drops
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are available in eye drops that can relieve itchiness. These are typically used four times a day, but they may trigger a sensation of burning or stinging when used.
Corticosteroid Eye Drops
These drops are intended to treat chronic and severe eye allergy symptoms. These drops should only be used under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.
Side Effects & Risks of Allergy Eye Drops
The side effects and risks of allergy eye drops vary depending on the type of eye drops, duration of use, and individual health conditions.
For antihistamine eye drops, side effects may include headaches or dry eyes.
They can also cause a stinging or burning sensation when put in the eyes. You can minimize this effect by keeping the drops in the refrigerator so they are chilled before applying them.
Corticosteroid eye drops are often stronger formulations that are used when other medications are not effective. They may pose serious risks, such as increasing the chances of cataracts, glaucoma, or infection if used long term. If you use corticosteroid eye drops, it is vital to be monitored by a physician.
Prescription vs. OTC Eye Drops
You can often control and manage some symptoms with nonprescription over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops. If your symptoms continue or worsen, you may need prescription allergy eye drops, which are generally stronger than those available over the counter.
It’s wise to see an allergist who can evaluate your symptoms and medical history. They can also conduct any necessary tests.
If you have chronic allergies, you’ll need a long-term plan to manage them. This may involve allergy eye drops as needed, oral allergy medication, or allergy shots. You’ll also need to limit exposure to allergens as much as possible.
How to Use Allergy Eye Drops
Instructions on eye drops will vary according to brand and type. Never use more than the prescribed dosage, whether this is given by your doctor or outlined on the over-the-counter drops’ labeling.
Always wash your hands before putting in eye drops. Tilt your head back, look up, and pull down the lower eye lid before you drop the outlined number of drops into the eye. Release the lower lid.
Take the full dosage of eye drops as prescribed, and use memory aids to help you remember to take eye drops.
Always practice good hygiene while using eye drops:
- Don’t share your eye drops with anyone else.
- Don’t touch the tip of the bottle to your eye or with your fingers.
- Wash your hands before applying eye drops.
Allergy Eye Drops FAQs
What is the best medicine for eye allergies?
If eyes are itchy from pollen allergies, over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops with ketotifen are a good choice. A brand like Zaditor is available without a prescription.
If your symptoms are not relieved with OTC eye drops, talk to your doctor about prescription allergy eye drops.
Do eye drops help with itchy eyes from allergies?
Yes, eye drops can relieve redness, irritation, and itchiness. Allergy eye drops with antihistamines in them can provide sustained relief from eye-related allergy symptoms.
How can I soothe my eyes when I have allergies?
Use allergy eye drops as needed to provide relief from itchiness, watery eyes, redness, and irritation. For added relief, chill your eye drops in the refrigerator before using them. You can also wash your eyes and apply a cool, wet washcloth to your closed eyes.
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Last Updated July 20, 2022
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