Individuals that suffer from allergies know that when burning, itching, red, tearing and swelling eyes begin, it’s time to reach for the allergy eye drops. Such symptoms are often caused by pollen, dust, pet dander, medications, contact lenses or other environmental factors. Ocular diseases associated with allergies have been on the rise for the past decade primarily due to environmental factors.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, contact dermatitis, perennial allergic conjunctivitis and several others conditions are not only problematic consequences of allergic reactions, but they could also lead to a permanent visual disability if not treated promptly and effectively. The bottom line is that relief is needed fast so selecting the right product is important.
Top 6 Allergy Eye Drops on the Market Today
It’s important to remember that eye drops do not treat all symptoms. Just because a product treats red eyes well doesn’t necessarily mean that it will also treat severe itching and burning. Knowing something about the over-the-counter products on the market prior to reaching toward a shelf filled with options could reduce the odds of getting something that doesn’t treat the most irritating symptoms.
The majority of over-the-counter allergy eye drops contain naphazoline which is a topical decongestant. As such, they should only be used for a short period of time. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recently stated that eye drops containing decongestants should never be used over one week as it could lead to conjunctivitis or more serious ocular problems.
1. Zaditor Eye Itch Relief
Zaditor is an antihistamine that relieves itchy eyes within minutes. It also contains ingredients that serve as a mast cell stabilizer which aids in blocking the body’s reaction to allergens. Zaditor is specifically designed for individuals that suffer from frequent allergy episodes and does not contain a decongestant so it’s safer to use longer than a week.
It is one of the few allergy eye drops that combines an antihistamine with a mast cell stabilizer plus is available over-the-counter. One drop in the affected eye or eyes should be used no more than two times per day. Effects last up to 12 hours and stops late-phase reactions. Additionally, if using an ointment along with the eye drops, wait at least 5 minutes before using Zaditor.
Few side effects have been reported since it doesn’t affect other bodily functions. However, it’s important to remember that it does not treat all symptoms and you need good eye-hand coordination in order to get the drops into your eyes correctly. The drug is also labeled Alaway, Zyrtec or Ketotifen Fumarate.
Average price – $14.85.
2. Alcon Naphcon Eye Drops for Allergy Relief
Alcon Naphcon Eye Drops has the advantage of relieving multiple symptoms of allergies affecting the eyes. Redness, itching, puffiness and watering are reduced or eliminated temporarily because it contains a decongestant as well as antihistamine and is included in a class of drugs called sympathomimetic amines. As such, it not only relieves immediate symptoms but also blocks natural substances that cause the symptoms in the first place.
It is not recommended for those that wear contact lenses but if it is used by such wearers, at least 10 minutes must elapse prior to reinserting them. It can be applied in the infected eye or eyes up to 4 times per day but be cognizant that overuse can result in eye redness. Additionally, it should not be used more than 4 consecutive days. Should stinging, redness, dilated pupils or blurred vision persist, contact a doctor immediately.
Average price: $12.50.
3. Visine-A Ophthalmic
Visine products were acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2006 but had already built a well-established history when produced by Pfizer. Visine-A is much like Alcon Naphcon in that it treats the same symptoms and utilizes similar ingredients in order to serve as a decongestant, antihistamine and vasoconstrictor. It is especially effective for individuals allergic to ragweed, pollen and/or dust.
Consumers that have used Visine-A have reported that upon application their eyes burned and stung. A worsening of red eyes, called a rebound effect, has also been reported. Those that wear contact lenses should also use caution when using the product; it could exacerbate eye irritation as well as reduce the amount of oxygen that is able to get to the eye.
An urban legend exists that a few drops of Visine allergy eye drops added to a drink would cause diarrhea. The idea has been perpetuated by the movies that often use the product as a prank. That could not be farther from the truth.
In fact, ingesting Visine could cause:
- blurred vision.
- nausea and vomiting.
- breathing problems or a complete cessation of breathing.
- hypertension followed by hypotension.
Such potential outcomes should serve as an important reminder that this and all medication should be kept out of the reach of children and that, often, pranks go too far without background knowledge. If the product has been ingested the poison control center should be contacted immediately.
Average price: $14.53.
4. Opcon-A Ophthalmic
Opcon-A Ophthalmic is another decongestant that relieves puffiness, itching, redness and watering that is frequently associated with allergies. Just as with the previous two products, it is included in the class of drugs known as sympathomimetic amines that narrows blood vessels in the eyes and blocks histamines that cause symptoms in the first place.
Opcon-A should not be used by those that use contact lenses. Additionally, if the liquid becomes cloudy or changes color it should not be used nor should it be used more than 4 consecutive days. Use of the allergy eye drops Opcon-A may induce stinging when first administered, cause red eye, dilate the pupils or cause blurry vision. This, according to consumer reports, can last for a few minutes up to a full day.
A doctor should be contacted immediately if tremors, irregular or fast-pounding heartbeat, sweating, nervousness, a headache or weakness occurs. Although rarely occurring, use should be ceased immediately if more serious side effects occur. These include redness, swelling or itching becoming worse in and around the eyes, eye pain and/or vision problems.
Average price: $11.50.
5. Refresh Eye Itch Relief
As the name implies, Refresh Eye Itch Relief is specifically designed to relieve allergy sufferers from itchy eyes which is usually one of the first indications of an allergic reaction. It’s generic name is Ketotifen Fumarate and is designed to treat not only allergic reactions but seasonal conjunctivitis as well. It is an antihistamine that blocks the natural substances that cause the reaction as well as a mast cell stabilizer that reduces the body’s release of natural substances that cause such reactions.
Although rare, side effects can include stinging/burning/irritated eyes, a headache, runny and/or stuffy nose, a bad taste in your mouth or an increased light sensitivity. If eye pain, vision problems, dry eyes or swelling and redness become worse, a doctor should be contacted immediately.
Refresh Eye Itch Relief is not designed for those with glaucoma as it will increase pressure in the eye. Wait until vision is completely clear prior to returning to work.
Average price: $12.18.
6. Clear Eyes Complete Ophthalmic
Clear Eyes is one of the few brands that offers a product for each symptom (i.e. Itch Relief, Redness Relief, for Dry Eyes, etc.). In the Clear Eyes Complete form, it is a decongestant that will relieve puffiness, redness and watery/itchy eyes that are a result of allergies, colds or eye irritations caused by swimming, smog or wearing contact lenses.
Clear Eyes is also an alpha receptor agonist that decreases congestion in the eye. It’s not uncommon to experience stinging eyes, blurry vision, redness or dilated pupils when first used. However, the effects should dissipate fairly quickly.
More serious side-effects can include nausea, dizziness, sweating, weakness, drowsiness, worsening redness/itching/swelling in or around the eyes or nervousness but have been rarely reported. A doctor should be contacted immediately should any adverse events occur.
Average price: $10.54.
When allergies strike it’s not unusual for the eyes to be affected as well. It’s important that allergic reactions be treated as early as possible in order to minimize long-term effects. As such, an ophthalmologist should be consulted before trying any medicinal drugs or if the problems persist.
Allergy eye drops need to be used as directed, usually 1 drop per eye 2-4 times per day depending on which product is selected. Individuals need to enter into use with the products only after careful research.