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Best eye drops for hay fever

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read
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You know when the pollen season has arrived if you suffer from itchy, streaming eyes and they look red and puffy. It can be really uncomfortable, and you feel desperate for some relief. Our pharmacist has put together some remedies to help soothe your eyes and heal your eye symptoms.

Will antihistamines help?

Taking an oral antihistamine is a good starting point for most people since the tablets can help dry up the excess eye and nasal secretions and help if you get lots of symptoms at once.

It’s worth taking these two weeks before you anticipate the season, to prevent symptoms from starting or reduce their severity. You’ll need to know which tree or grass pollen you’re allergic to, as they come out at different times of the year – a symptom diary can help.

Be aware that double-dosing doesn’t bring added benefits, so if you’re already taking antihistamine tablets, there’s no point in adding in antihistamine eye drops.

My eyes get itchy and watery

Antihistamine eye drops are one option if you're not on oral antihistamines already. They reduce the histamine response to help ease your eye symptoms. These eye drops – such as olopatadine or ketotifen – are fast-acting but can cause a little discomfort or stinging when they’re first put in, although this quickly subsides.

An alternative that can work with oral antihistamines is cromolyn 2% eye drops. These are not in the same class of medication as antihistamines but work as a stabilizer of the cells that release histamine (mast cells), preventing them from releasing histamine. It works directly in the eyes to suppress allergy symptoms. This medication requires a prescription.

My eyes feel gritty

Other eye drops or eye soothers may help to calm and ease irritation. They don’t have any antihistamine action but serve to soothe and hydrate the eyes. They can also cleanse, washing out any allergens or irritants.

Eyelid wipes cleanse away pollen trapped around the eyelids and eyelashes that can cause itchiness and irritation, preventing ongoing irritation and allergic response.

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Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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