New Medications Offer Faster Relief for Eye Allergies
WebMD News Archive
"In most cases, the symptoms of ocular allergies are mild to
moderate," Basuk says, "but in a few severe cases, people can lose
their vision. For them, these allergy medications are crucial in saving their
The third new drug, Alamast, by Santen Inc., has been approved by the FDA
and will be available in a few weeks. It is an improved mast-cell stabilizer,
and also comes in drop form.
This drug should be used before symptoms start, because it takes a few days
before the itching stops, Gregg J. Berdy, MD, an eye allergy specialist and
clinical instructor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis,
tells WebMD. He was involved in the clinical testing of Alamast.
"It's also the most comfortable drug of its kind because it doesn't
sting," he says.
Before prescribing any medications, doctors must confirm that the
conjunctivitis is due to an allergy rather than being the symptom of another
problem, such as an infection. The doctor may first try prescription-strength
antihistamines. If these fail to quell the inflammation and itching, the next
step could be one of these new drugs.
Before calling the doctor, though, there are some other things allergy
sufferers can try, Berdy advises.
"Begin by using over-the-counter tear substitutes and cold
compresses," he says, "and some people will benefit from
over-the-counter antihistamines used in conjunction with the artificial
New drugs are available for allergic
conjunctivitis that are faster acting and easier to use, but further studies
are needed to prove whether they are more effective than older
The new drugs, along with older antihistamines
and mast-cell stabilizers, are alternatives to steroids, which are highly
effective but have serious side effects.
If symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis --
redness, swelling, tearing, and itching -- are mild to moderate, try applying
cold compresses to the eyes and using over-the-counter medications (oral
antihistamines, artificial tears) before calling the doctor.