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Do Allergy Drops Really Work?


Causes of Allergic Reaction to the Eyes:  Eye allergies can be caused by pollen, dust, and pet dander and include symptoms like: burning sensation on eye, itchiness, swelling, tearing, and bloodshot appearance. Many people affected by allergies will usually opt for an over the counter pill or tablet that can be taken orally, and they stay away from drops because they feel they aren’t effective at treating the problem. However, in many cases eye doctors recommend the use of eye drops to combat eye allergies.  As with all allergies, the treatment varies case by case.


For more serious cases small doses of steroids may be applied to help the patient deal with intense eye swelling. Atopic keratoconjunctivitis is one such case where these more intense treatments would be needed as the effects are significantly more irritating. Potent antihistamines in conjunction with the oral steroids are the best treatment for this type of allergic reaction.

Getting pollen in the eyes may cause a slight allergic reaction and for this, no drops would be needed. Simply washing the eye out with room temperature water will suffice

Types of eye drop treatments available to treat allergic reactions in the eyes: The type of allergy treatment a patient needs depends on things like: symptoms, what specifically caused the reaction, and how severe the case is. Depending on what the symptoms are, one should use drops that are specific to the reaction, as not all eye drops treat all symptoms. Example: someone with bloodshot eyes wouldn’t use drops designed to relieve itchiness, as it may not help the user at all. Antihistamine drops are proven to treat itchy and watery eyes, which are two of the more common allergic reactions. These drops work quickly to relieve symptoms but don’t last all day. Some common types of prescription antihistamine drops are Optivar, Emadine, and Livostin  


Alaway, Zaditor, and Alcon are all common over the counter eye drops. These are best used with mild to moderate allergies, as they are purposely not very strong as they require no prescription. They typically only treat redness and itchiness, and only to a mild degree. If these over the counter drops do not work after 2-3 days, it is highly recommended to switch to a prescription brand as over the counter drops can have negative effects after this amount of time.

For inflamed and itchy eyes Ketorolac is the only approved way to treat these two symptoms, the most common manufacturer of this is Toradol. Eye redness can be treated with over the counter drops such as Clear Eyes, Refresh, and Visine. Certain types of eye drops have multiple types of medicine to treat different symptoms of allergies with eyes. The most popular examples of Antihistamine/decongestant include Vasocon-A, Opcon-A and Naphcon-A.


It isn’t recommended to use these drops while wearing contact lenses, so they should be removed beforehand. Also someone using eye drops should only use the over the counter brand for a maximum of 2-3 days. They may have negative side effects after that. People with an eye infection or glaucoma should not use these drops, and should discuss with their doctor some alternative options.

By: Peter Cusumano and reviewed by Dr. Stockman