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Eyedrops for Allergies

Allergy eyedrops are liquid medicines used to treat symptoms of eye allergies. Eye allergy symptoms include:

  • burning of the eye
  • feeling like something is in the eye
  • itchy eyes
  • red (bloodshot) eyes
  • swelling of the eyelid
  • tearing

An eye allergy is linked to the same kinds of triggers that cause hay fever, such as:

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  • pollen
  • dust
  • pet dander

Eye allergies may also be triggered by certain medications or by wearing contact lenses.

Types of Allergy Eyedrops

If you have symptoms of eye allergies, ask your health care provider if eyedrops are right for you. Your doctor may first suggest you take these steps:

  • use artificial tears
  • place a cold cloth on the eyes
  • avoid your allergy triggers

Which type of allergy eyedrop you use depends on:

  • the cause of your allergy
  • your specific symptoms
  • how much the symptoms affect daily activities

Not all allergy eyedrops treat all allergy symptoms. For example, an eyedrop that relieves red (bloodshot) eyes may not stop the itching.

There are many different types of allergy eyedrops. Some are sold over the counter while others require a prescription from a doctor. Some relieve symptoms quickly. Others provide long-term relief.

The types of allergy eyedrops include:

  • antihistamine
  • anti-inflammatory
  • decongestant
  • mast cell stabilizers
  • multiple action

Antihistamine Allergy Eyedrops

If you have itchy, watery eyes, antihistamine eyedrops may make you feel better. These medicines block histamine buildup in the body. Histamine is a chemical made by your immune system when you come in contact with an allergy trigger. It causes many of your allergy symptoms.

Antihistamine eyedrops are usually recommended as the first treatment for eye allergies after you have tried non-drug methods at home.

Antihistamine eyedrops can quickly relieve eye allergy symptoms. But relief may only last for a few hours. You may need to use the drops several times a day.

Prescription antihistamine eyedrops include:

  • Emadine (emedastine difumarate)
  • Livostin (levocabastine)
  • Optivar (azelastine hydrochloride)

 

Anti-inflammatory Allergy Eyedrops

Anti-inflammatory eyedrops fall into two groups:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids

NSAID eyedrops affect certain nerve endings. They change the way your body makes you feel itchy.

Acular/Acuvail (ketorolac) is the only NSAID approved for the treatment of itchy eyes. Itching usually starts to go away about one hour after using the eyedrops. These eyedrops often cause stinging or burning when first placed in the eyes.

Corticosteroid eyedrops are used to treat severe, long-term eye allergy symptoms. Prescription steroid eyedrops include Alrex and Lotemax (loteprednol).

Because of possible side effects, corticosteroid drops are not generally recommended for long-term use, except for the most severe allergic eye conditions.

When you are using corticosteroid eyedrops, you should have regular checkups with an eye specialist to monitor your eye health. Corticosteroid eyedrops can raise your risk for:

  • Cataracts
  • Eye infection
  • Glaucoma
  • Increased pressure in the eye (elevated intraocular pressure)

 

WebMD Medical Reference

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