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Understanding Allergy and Hay Fever Medications (cont.)

Antiallergy Eyedrops

Antihistamine eyedrops, such as azelastine (Optivar), ketotifen (Zaditor), or olopatadine (Patanol), are used to relieve symptoms like itchy or watery eyes. Other eyedrops containing anti-inflammatory agents, such as ketorolac (Acular), or corticosteroid eyedrops, such as loteprednol (Alrex, Lotemax) may also decrease swelling and irritation. Nonprescription eyedrops that are used for allergies and hay fever are also available. These eyedrops contain decongestants (phenylephrine, naphazoline, or tetrahydrozoline) and/or antihistamines (pheniramine or antazoline). Some examples include naphazoline and zinc (Clear Eyes ACR), Naphcon-A, Visine Allergy Relief, and Opcon-A.

  • How antiallergy eyedrops work: These drugs decrease inflammation or inhibit histamine release. The result is a decrease in symptoms involving the eye, such as itching, tearing, or swelling.
  • Who should not use these medications: The following individuals should not use antiallergy eyedrops:
    • Those with allergy to the medication or other components of the eyedrops
    • Those with eye infections
  • Use: Tilt the head back and use the index finger to pull down the lower eyelid to make a pocket. Use the other hand to hold the eyedrop bottle. Gently squeeze the prescribed number of drops into the eye pocket.
  • Drug or food interactions: Using corticosteroid eyedrops at the same time as antiallergy eyedrops may increase the risk of infection.
  • Side effects:
    • Antiallergy eyedrops may cause temporary stinging or burning when administered, as well as red or watery eyes in some people. If irritation persists, contact the doctor.
    • Soft-contact lens wearers should wait at least 10 minutes after using eyedrops to insert contact lens.
    • Use care to prevent contamination of dropper tip or eyedrop solution.
    • Corticosteroid eyedrops may increase pressure in the eye; therefore, people with cataracts or glaucoma must use them with caution.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2014

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