Allergic Eyes Guide - content by Dr. Jason Morris
A huge percentage of the population suffer from allergies. If you are reading this then your environmental and/or animal allergies likely effect your eyes. Allergic eyes are red, itchy (especially in the insider corners) and may have a stringy white discharge. This guide is not meant to be diagnostic and you should see an Optometrist to diagnose ocular allergies.
Oral antihistamines give broad allergy relief and may be adequate for some ocular allergy sufferers. However eye drops can be very useful for those individuals who:
- Do not really have systemic allergy signs/symptoms like sneezing and congestion
- Find that even with oral medications, ocular allergies persist
- Find that the needed oral antihistamines dry out their eyes and create irritation or contact lens intolerance
What non-prescription and prescription eye drop options do ocular allergy sufferers have?
Rewetting drops - Do not under-rate regular use of non-preserved rewetting drops. When using oral antihistamines, your eyes will be more dry and using a drop like Thealoz® can help flush your eyes and make them feel better. Regular use of rewetting drops can also make you more tolerant to contact lenses during your seasonal allergies.
Ice - If your allergies are more acute in nature (e.g. animal dander), ice can be a useful treatment if you simply do not have drops or need immediate relief. An ice cube in a cloth applied to the lids can slow rapid onset reactions.
Cell Stabilizer Eye Drops - These drops act to shield the [mast] cells that release histamine. The older drops based on sodium cromoglycate (e.g. Cromolyn) seem to have limited success in clinic. There is a new cell stabilizer drop that our Optometry advisors are using with great success Hylo® Dual. This drop is innovative because is combines a create lubricating drop with a novel mast cell stabilizer. When used regularly, Hylo® Dual has shown to be very effective for environmental allergy use and can be used for very long periods of time without fear of adverse effects.
Antihistamine Eye Drops - There is a broad spectrum of these drops and depending upon where you live, some are prescription and some are over-the-counter. These drops combat free antigens in the eye (versus stabilizers that only prevent histamine release). Older antihistamines like Naphcon-A, Opcon-A are reasonably effective for short-term or acute relief. Slightly newer drops like Zaditor have more punch for sure. The most successful drop that our Optometry advisors prescribe (because it is once a day and effective as both antihistamine and stabilizer) is Pataday. Pataday is sold under prescription in some areas and non-prescription in others - talk to your Optometrist.
Steroid Based Eye Drops - Steroid drops are always prescription. They are very effective in reducing ocular allergy symptoms fast! The most common steroid drops for allergy are FML, Lotemax and Alrex. The last two are the same drug at different concentrations. Speak to you Optometrist about these medications.