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These Eye Drops Will Make Allergy SZN A Non-Issue For Once

by News Desk

Sarah Leituala

No one needs to tell you it’s spring when you have allergies—the sneezing, sniffling, and stuffiness will clue you into it. Not only do allergens leave your nose congested and your throat scratchy, but they also do a number on your eyeballs. Besides planning ahead of allergy season by taking some OTC meds, you may also want to stock up on the best eye drops for allergy.

That’s one of the wisest investments you can make before the discomfort sets in because the eyes are one of the most visible sites for inflammation due to allergy, says Clifford Bassett, MD, an allergist and clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health. “Ocular allergy occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids, called the conjunctiva, gets inflamed and eyes become itchy, red, and watery,” he explains.

The conjunctiva contains a large number of mast cells that are involved in the immune system’s response to triggers in the environment, says Dr. Bassett. When you’re outside and pollens deposit in your eyes, the mast cells release something called histamine. “Histamines causes blood vessels to dilate and produce itching and redness,” notes Punita Pondra, MD, the associate division chief of allergy and immunology at Northwell Health.

And your stuffed, congested nose? That messes with your eyes too. Breathing in pollens brings about a similar process of histamine release and dilation of blood vessels occurs in the nose, resulting in congestion, per Dr. Pondra. Since the eyes drain through the nose (kind of gross, I know), if the nose is congested, what your eyes encounter in the environment can’t be drained away. “From direct contact with the allergen to the eye and from the fact that the eye can’t clear the allergens because the nose is blocked, you have itching and tearing and redness in the eyes,” she says.

The whole grin-and-bear-it attitude doesn’t quite work when your eyes feel like they’re on fire. Luckily, a good eye drop can help them get back to feeling normal. Here are the best ones you can buy online based on guidelines from eye experts, as well as the pros and cons for each.

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Best for dry eyes

Refresh Optive Lubricant Eye Drops

  • Preservative-free
  • Act as a barrier against pollen
  • Come in single-use vials
  • Do not have antihistamines

These are preservative-free, which is great if you’re also struggling with dry eye on top of other allergy symptoms, says Vivian Shibayama, OD, an optometrist at UCLA Health. “Preservatives can cause eye irritations if used too often,” she explains. And these drops in particular can come in handy when you need artificial tears.


Best for itchy eyes

Pataday Once Daily Relief

  • Get rid of itchiness quickly
  • Lasting effects
  • Effective against different allergens

When you can’t stand the itchiness anymore and need something stronger to take care of it, these Pataday eye drops are a topical antihistamine that can soothe annoying allergy eye symptoms in just a few minutes. All it takes is one drop, and the relief lasts for up to 16 hours.


Best for red and itchy eyes

Visine Allergy Eye Relief

  • Fight itch
  • Dual-action
  • Work against a wide variety of allergens
  • Prescription-strength, so use wisely

Need a one-two punch to get rid of both the itchiness and redness at once? Visine’s prescription-strength drops are exactly what you’re looking for. It’s formulated with both antihistamines and naphazoline hydrochloride. Together, they help curb the itch and return your eyes to looking normal.


Best for sensitive eyes

Systane Ultra-Lubricant Eye Drops

  • Preservative-free
  • Add moisture
  • Available in single-use vials
  • Don’t contain antihistamines

These lubricating eye drops can replenish moisture. They are also preservative-free, which you know is important. They are perfect for when there’s not enough wetness in your tears or you’re struggling with dry eye, notes Shibayama.


Best for rinsing

TheraTears Eye Drops

  • Preservative-free
  • Fast relief
  • Individually packaged
  • Do not have antihistamines

TheraTears are preservative-free drops that rewet your eyes and rinse out any allergens that might be hanging out around your eyeballs. The single-vial design makes sure you don’t have to worry about accidentally contaminating all your eye drops when your hand slips.


Best natural option

Similasan Allergy Eye Relief

  • Made with natural active ingredients
  • Can be used as often as needed
  • May not be as strong as other eye drops
  • Offer temporary relief

If you want a more natural solution without preservatives or chemicals, you’ll want to give these drops a shot. They contain only gentle, non-irritating ingredients like eyebright that ease all the usual uncomfortable symptoms of allergies.


Best for contact lens users

Refresh Optive Lubricant Eye Drops

  • Relieve dryness
  • Compatible with contacts
  • Quick action
  • Does not contain antihistamines

It’s reasonable to question whether you can use eye drops if you use contact lenses. The answer is yes, especially if you suffer from dry eyes due to allergies. These drops offer barrier protection, so the pollen doesn’t reach your eyes as much, explains Dr. Pondra. Just make sure you wait 10 minutes after putting them in before popping your lenses in.


Best for fast relief

Alaway Allergy Eye Itch Relief

  • Work quickly
  • Effective against many allergens
  • Contain antihistamines

These antihistamine eye drops contain ketotifen, an active that Zeba Syed, MD, a cornea surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital, recommends in allergy-relieving eye drops. Once you apply them, they go to work in minutes and then provide up to 12 hours of allergy relief.


Choosing the Best Eye Drops for Allergies

There are a few different types that might work for you (and some drops fall into multiple categories).

  • Antihistamine eye drops: Both OTC and/or prescription, these medicated eye drops block the receptors that recognize histamine, says Dr. Pondra. They have anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce symptoms.
  • Mast cell stabilizers: Mast cells are a type of cell that causes allergic reactions, according to the American Academy of Asthma and Immunology (AAAI). These types of drops (e.g., lodoxamine, cromolyn, nedocromil) can prevent the release of histamines because they stabilize their membranes. Mast cell stabilizers are available OTC and in prescription form.
  • Decongestant eye drops: These are basic eye drops designed to tone down redness. They contain a decongestant (e.g., naphazoline) that constricts blood vessels in the eyes, which in turn, makes them appear less red, according to Berkeley Wellness.
  • Artificial tears: These do exactly what you’d expect—moisten your peepers. “Something as simple as artificial tears lubricate the eye surface and improve overall comfort,” says Dr. Syed. Artificial tears can also help wash out any gunk that may be on the surface of your eye and bothering you, points out Jacqueline G. Davis, OD, a professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.
  • Topical antihistamines: For some people, artificial tears are enough; for others, a topical antihistamine may be needed to deal with your body’s allergic response, says Shibayama. If your allergies are out of control, OTC eye drops with the antihistamine ketotifen can help tamp down on the itchiness and redness.

If you’re not sure what’s going on with your red eyes, it’s always a good idea to see an eye doctor, says Mina Massaro-Giordano, MD, the co-director of the Penn Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Center and a professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania. But, if you’re pretty sure allergies are the culrpit, try an OTC eye drop that falls into one of the above categories.

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