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Eye drops for allergy

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 25.04.2023 | 1 min read

You may be suffering from hay fever, or a reaction to another allergen leading to sneezing and streaming. There’s an array of allergy eye drops available, so let our resident pharmacist take you through where to start and how to choose between them.

Tablets or eye drops?

You may have no other symptoms alongside your itchy or streaming eyes, in which case eye drops are a good place to start. If you have more generalised symptoms, then anti-allergy tablets, also known as antihistamines can be a useful addition too. They aim to dampen down the overall immune response, which is driven by the release of histamine from mast cells.

Over the counter options

Sodium cromoglicate 2% products, such as Optcrom eye drops, are available over-the-counter for those aged 6 and above. This active ingredient is not classed as an antihistamine but works to reduce the release of histamine in the eyes and suppress allergy symptoms there. It’s applied four times a day, and can be used as a standalone treatment or alongside oral antihistamines. The advantage of sodium cromoglicate is that it’s available to buy over-the-counter. Intranasal or eye drop antihistamines require a prescription, but may be preferred as they last longer, and therefore need applying less often.

Other options

Antihistamine eye drops such as Optilast (contains olopatadine) or Azelast (contains azelastine) only need to be applied twice daily. Targeted antihistamine products can be prescribed for those aged 6 and over.

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