A good friend from California called me last weekend. Though it may be hard for us to imagine with the heavy snow we have been experiencing, they are already preparing for spring. She suffers from allergies and often gets very red, itchy eyes during spring and fall. She told me that she uses Visine religiously during these seasons, but her symptoms are not fully controlled.
Most people think of Visine when the words "eye drops" are mentioned, even though there are many different types of drops available over the counter. Visine and many other over the counter eye drops contain topical decongestants (naphazoline) to constrict blood vessels in the conjunctiva and reduce the appearance of red eyes. However, when these topical decongestants are used long term, then a tolerance can develop resulting in increase in eye redness and irritation, with more dependence on the eye drop for relief. For allergic symptoms it is important to use drops that specifically target the allergic cascade. Specifically look for eye drops that have anti-histamine and mast cell stabilizer properties.
My favorite over-the-counter allergy eye drop is Zatidor. If the non-prescription drops do not take away all your symptoms, then be sure to tell your eye doctor as there are several prescription strength options that are also available.
Priya Desai, M.D., M.B.A. Board Certified Ophthalmologist Medical, Laser and Surgical treatment of Glaucoma Cataract Surgery