Which allergy-relief eye drops are best?
Whether it’s pollen, dust, or pet dander, sooner or later it will find its way to someone’s eyes, nose, and throat. While there are oral medications available for nasal allergies, the best source of relief for irritated eyes are sterile, medicated eye drops. One or two drops applied to inflamed eye tissue should be enough to irrigate the area and treat the allergic reaction medically. Yes, there are non-medicated eye washes and saline solutions that can help remove dust and pollen, but these products do not contain the type of active ingredients an allergy sufferer requires.
Some eye drops for allergy relief contain antihistamines, the same active ingredients that help neutralize nasal allergies. Others add astringents that actively shrink blood vessels and other swollen tissues. Prescription-strength eye drops may also contain corticosteroids that help reduce eye pressure for those with serious vision problems triggered by allergies.
If you are seeking over-the-counter relief for eye issues caused by allergies, read our helpful buying guide. We have compared dozens of allergy-relief eye drops on the market today, and have compiled a short list of the best products. At the top is Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway Antihistamine Eye Drops, a long-lasting, concentrated eye drop that works across the spectrum of allergens, from pet dander to pollen.
What to know before you buy allergy-relief eye drops
Range of treatment
Nonprescription eye drops all provide relief from dust and pollen simply by rinsing it away. Simple saline solution can be used as a basic eye wash, for instance. Eye drops formulated specifically for allergies should address several issues. Some help reduce the itch, but do not reduce swelling. Others treat the inflamed blood vessels that cause redness, but do not contain antihistamines.
When shopping for allergy-relief eye drops, it helps to consider the most common symptoms triggered by your personal environment and look for a formulation that meets those needs. There’s no sense investing in a high-end multi-symptom eye drop if the irritation is caused primarily by a dusty environment.
Some eye allergies are triggered by a reaction to pollen, mold, or pet dander. The body reacts by releasing histamines to the affected area, which can create itching, redness, and tearing. Eye drops containing antihistamines essentially neutralize the histamines, reducing the symptoms almost immediately. However, the relief may only last a few hours per dose.
When eyes become inflamed and swollen from severe allergies, anti-inflammatory eye drops are often more helpful than antihistamines. These powerful drops can sting or burn on application, however, and they can take up to an hour to become fully effective. Some anti-inflammatory eye drops require a prescription, and their use should be limited unless directed by a physician.
For those with severe eye allergies, there are non-prescription and prescription eye drops that prevent the release of histamines from the body’s “mast cells,” a natural defense system that reacts to allergens. Some eye conditions may even require a prescription-only product containing corticosteroids, which can affect eye pressure and vision.
Ease of use
Many people with known eye allergies prefer to carry their OTC eye drops in a purse, pocket or glove compartment in order to have immediate relief on hand. This means the packaging should be portable, secure and easy to open. The contents should remain protected from contamination and leakage.
Some users may find applying the drops to be challenging because of the bottle’s design. Ideally, the tip of the bottle should form and release drops with minimal pressure required. There are also single-use doses of eye drops available that eliminate the need to carry a full bottle at all times.
How much you can expect to spend on allergy-relief eye drops
The most basic eye drops containing allergy-relieving ingredients can usually be found on store shelves for $3-$6 a bottle. For those who require a multi-symptom approach, brands with stronger active ingredients retail between $7 and $12, while prescription-strength products or economical multipacks can cost up to $25.
Allergy-relief eye drops FAQ
Q. Are eye drops for allergy relief safe for my five-year-old son?
A. Many eye drop brands are formulated to be safe for ages three and up, but you should consult the product information before using the drops on children. You may also consider using an oral allergy medication to bolster the effectiveness of the eye drops.
Q. I wear contact lenses. Can I still use allergy eye drops?
A. Many OTC eye drops are promoted as safe for contacts, but you may want to remove them temporarily to give the active ingredients time to work. Applying drops directly to the contact lens can create some cloudiness.
What allergy-relief eye drops are best to buy?
Top allergy-relief eye drops
Our take: These medicinal drops from a well-respected brand work quickly on a number of different irritants, not just pollen or dust.
What we like: Long-lasting relief from one drop. Active ingredients are prescription-strength, no prescription required. Works on multiple sources of eye irritation and allergies. Up to 60-day supply in one bottle.
What we dislike: Some users report burning sensation, allergic reactions.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Top allergy-relief eye drops for the money
Our take: This homeopathic eye treatment is ideal for users who seek a gentler alternative to chemical-based eye drops.
What we like: Contains natural ingredients, no harsh chemicals. Works well as an enhanced eye rinse. Cruelty-free testing. Works within minutes
What we dislike: Formula is mostly water with less powerful homeopathic ingredients.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: This prescription-strength eye drop is one to carry in a purse or pocket while working outdoors/traveling/camping.
What we like: Dropper is very user-friendly. Contains strong antihistamine and astringent. Works on a wide variety of allergens and irritants. Formerly prescription-only.
What we dislike: Some burning reported during first application. Package is smaller than expected.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
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Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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