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Types of Eye Drops for Allergies

If you suffer from hay fever, animal allergies, mold allergies, pollen allergies or other conditions that make you sensitive to light or cause your eyes to itch, water, burn and swell then you have probably tried at least one kind of eye drop to get relief.

The worst thing about eye allergies is that you can actually injure your eyes by rubbing them, especially in your sleep, so it is important to treat the condition rather than just try to wait it out.

There are several different types of eye drops for allergies, all of which work in a little different way.


Decongestant eye drops work by shrinking the swollen blood vessels and tissues in your eyes. This is the type that is frequently used to reduce redness as well. Because decongestants can raise blood pressure, people with glaucoma shouldn’t use them.


When an allergen such as pet dander, pollen or dust enters your body, your immune system kicks in and causes your mast cells (immune system cells) to release a chemical called histamine. Histamines make your blood vessels enlarge but will also attach to other receptors and cause redness, itching, watering and swelling. Antihistamines block the histamine receptors in order to prevent this from happening. The only problem with antihistamines are that if taken in the oral form, they frequently cause drowsiness.


Corticosteroids act to reduce the inflammation of the tissues in your eyes that are associated with allergies. Though extremely effective, the downside is that you have to take them every day and it may take up to two weeks for them to be fully effective. Long-term use of steroids can cause cataracts so they should be used with caution.

Mast Stabilizers

Whereas antihistamines work to prevent histamine from attaching to receptors, mast stabilizers stop the release of histamines altogether. Some of them also have anti-inflammatory effects as well. Using the eye drops may cause blurred vision or stinging.

Over-the-counter allergy eye drops are only available in antihistamines, decongestants or a combination of the two. For all other types of eye drops, a prescription is required. You should never use eye drops more than a few times in a day, or for more than three straight days because long-term use can actually cause your eyes to stop producing important lubricating agents which will make your eye irritation much worse.

Itching is the key indicator that differentiates an allergic reaction from some other, more serious eye issue, so if you are experiencing burning, watering, pain, light-sensitivity or blurred vision without the itching, you should being using eye supplements and go see an eye doctor because you may have a more serious issue than just an allergic reaction to Fluffy or a minor case of hay fever.