Eye drops are used to treat symptoms of eye allergies. Symptoms include itchy, watery, stinging, red, sore, and swollen eyes. There are both over-the-counter and prescription eye drops for allergies.
Over-the-counter (OTC) drops are available in decongestant and decongestant/antihistamine combinations. Decongestant drops include Visine, Naphcon, and generic forms of naphazoline. Decongestant/antihistamine drops include Visine-A, Naphcon-A, and generic forms of naphazoline/pheniramine. These drops should be used for short-term use only. Long-term use can lead to dependence on the drops. People with glaucoma should not use these drops, and people with blood pressure or heart problems should use with caution.
Recently, the FDA approved an eye drop (Alaway) for OTC use that is expected to not cause dependence with long-term use.
Prescription eye drops include decongestants and decongestant/antihistamine combinations that are equivalent to OTC formulations. They also include five other types that, unlike decongestant forms of drops, are not associated with dependency with long-term use:
- Antihistamine drops (Emadine): These work well with allergies on an "as-needed" basis.
- Mast cell stabilizer drops (Crolom and cromolyn generics, Alocril and nedocromil generics, Alomide, Alamast): These work well to prevent symptoms before allergen exposure.
- Antihistamine/mast cell stabilizer dual-action drops (Patanol, Optivar, Elestat, Zaditor): These work better than single-action agents.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops (Acular): These work similar to aspirin and ibuprofen (should not be used if you have a sensitivity or intolerance to aspirin).
- Corticosteroid drops: These drops can lead to severe complications and are usually only used in severe cases.