Healthy Body

Optometrists Say These Are the Best OTC Eye Drops for Intense Allergies

Photo: Getty Images/CoffeeAndMilk
Spring gets all the credit for being allergy season, but if the itchy eyes you're experiencing right now are any indication, fall deserves its fair share of flack, too—and that's where allergy eye drops can be super helpful. This time of year, an influx of air irritants—which come by way of the weed pollination that happens from August through November—causes an uptick in allergy symptoms, including dry, watery, and all-around uncomfortable eyes. But according to Monica Haizen, OD, a board-certified optometrist with My Eyelab, treating your peepers with one of the best allergy eye drops on the market will help you easily keep these issues at bay.

The best eye drops for itchy eyes

Dexterity Health Liquid MSM Eye Drops 2-Pack — $23.00

For dry, itchy eyes, Sam Berne, OD, a holistic optometrist, recommends using MSM eye drops, like these. They contain sulfur, which helps to reduce inflammation, one of the main causes behind the dryness that causes itching.

Pros:

  • Organic and natural ingredients
  • MSM is gentle and non-irritating
  • Can also help fix floaters in the eye

Cons:

  • Some customers report slight stinging
PATADAY Eye Itch Relief — $11.00

Dr. Haizen cites these as her over-the-counter allergy eye drops of choice. “It is my preferred allergy drop because it is usually very effective and only dosed once a day as needed, instead of multiple doses a day,” she says. It used to only be available with a prescription, but now you can snag it for yourself online or at your local drugstore.

Pros:

  • Only have to use it once daily and provides up to 16 hours of relief
  • Can be used for children 2 and older

Cons:

  • Can’t be used with contact lenses
  • Small bottle
Visine Allergy Eye Relief Multi-Action Antihistamine & Redness Reliever Eye Drops — $6.00

Allergy symptoms are no match for these drops, which offer multi-action relief and are clinically proven to treat red, itchy eyes. They have the antihistamine properties that Dr. Haizen recommends, as well as 0.25 percent naphazoline hydrochloride to help with redness.

Pros:

  • Reduces both itchiness and red eyes
  • Prescription strength in an OTC package

Cons:

  • Can’t be used with contact lenses
  • Some users may experience a tingling sensation
Bausch and Lomb Allergy Eye Drops — $8.00

These antihistamine drops have been called “THE BEST” for red and itchy eyes by Amazon reviewers, and as longtime user myself, I must say I agree. Whether it’s pollen or pet dander that’s got your eyes on fire, these will help relieve the burn.

Pros:

  • Has an antihistamine to fight allergies and a redness reliever
  • Fast-working

Cons:

  • Can’t be used with contact lenses
Zaditor Eye Itch Relief Antihistamine Eye Drops — $19.00

This formula offers 12 hours of relief from itching, which means that a few drops in the morning should be enough to get you through the day, no matter how many airborne irritants you come across. It was originally prescription strength but is now available over the counter, so you know it’s sure to be effective.

Pros:

  • Provides relief for up to 12 hours
  • Fast-working
  • Can be used for children 3 and up

Cons:

  • Can’t be used with contact lenses
Naphcon-A Eye Drops — $10.00

This allergy eye drop packs a one-two punch for symptom relief. The formula pairs a decongestant, which constricts the blood vessels in your eyes to reduce redness, with an antihistamine that helps with watering and itchiness.

Similasan Allergy Eye Relief Eye Drops
Similasan Allergy Eye Relief Eye Drops — $7.00

These homeopathic eye drops are made with natural ingredients such as Eyebright, a wildflower that helps relieve redness and watering of eyes. Instead of masking symptoms, Similasan is designed to stimulate the body’s natural defenses to fight allergies.

Pros:

  • Made with natural botanical extracts and no harsh chemicals
  • No known side effects
  • Can use as often as needed, and can be used with contact lenses

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have any antihistamines to help reduce inflammation

Best eye drops for watery eyes

Clear Eyes Eye Drops, Complete 7 Symptom Relief (Pack of 3) — $17.00

These drops will help your eyes simply feel better overall, thanks to the fact that they target seven of the most common ocular allergy symptoms. Among them? Redness, dryness, itch, and—unlike the others listed above—watering.

Pros:

  • Provides up to 12 hours of relief
  • Contains both a lubricant and redness reliever

Cons:

  • Can’t be used with contact lenses
Rohto Ice All-in-One Multi-Symptom Relief Cooling Eye — $15.00

In addition to helping stop tearing in allergy-prone eyes, these drops have a glorious cooling effect that will leave your peepers breathing a sigh of relief.

Pros:

  • Provides up to eight hours of relief
  • Has a cooling sensation
  • Relieves multiple symptoms, including itchy, red, irritated, and watery eyes

Cons:

  • Cooling effect may irritate sensitive eyes

What causes fall allergies

Aside from the fact that weed pollination is at its annual high right now, there are a few other things that may be causing your post-LDW allergy flare. "Outdoor allergy causes in fall include high mold counts and high pollen counts," says Dr. Haizen, naming ragweed and mold spores from decaying leaves as two of the biggest culprits. "Indoor allergens like pet dander and dust mites can also cause allergy flare-ups, especially as students return to school and spend more time indoors."

Symptoms of allergies

While allergies can cause symptoms throughout your body and make you feel congested and sluggish, one of the most common places they show themselves is in your eyes. "Patients with seasonal allergies may experience eye itching and itching around their eyes, watery eyes, eye redness, eye puffiness, and dark circles under their eyes," says Dr. Haizen. If you've ever dealt with any of these, you know that the itching, in particular, can be brutal. The reason? "Eye itching is caused by histamine released by the body after an allergic trigger is sensed," says Dr. Haizen. "When patients with allergies itch their eyes, more histamine is released and eye itching continues or increases instead of feeling relief unless medication is taken."

What to look for in an allergy eye drop

Speaking of medication, Dr. Haizen recommends looking for anti-histamine products to best treat your ocular symptoms. "An effective allergy eye drop should target allergy relief, instead of just being an artificial tear or lubricating eye drop or drop that that only targets redness," she says.

 

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