Spring and allergy eyes
I love the sunny days of early spring when the trees, flowers and grasses are in bloom…but then my allergies kick in.
I don’t mind the runny nose and sneezing so much. I can use my neti pot to keep the pollen out of my nose.
But I’ve had a harder time treating the allergy eyes—the itchy, red, watery, ugly eyes that are the by-product of all that seasonal pollen floating in the air.
Another name for allergy eyes is allergic conjunctivitis.
Try some simple treatments
I can’t avoid spring flowers, but I’ve finally (after many years of suffering) found several easy and inexpensive ways to treat my allergy eyes and stay comfortable.
- Limit your exposure to pollen if you can (or whatever causes your allergy).
- Keep your windows shut
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses when outside
- Use cool compresses to reduce itchiness and redness.
- Keep a wet washcloth in the refrigerator; apply to your eyes for 5-10 minutes several times a day.
- Keep a bottle of inexpensive contact saline solution in the refrigerator, too; use it to rinse your eyes out after you’ve been outside (or near pets, dust, etc.).
- Avoid using oral decongestants or antihistamines such as Sudafed, Zyrtec, or Allegra.
- These dry your eyes out and can make them even more uncomfortable.
- Use a neti pot instead to keep your nose clear.
- Buy inexpensive, over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops and use as directed.
- Look for the active ingredient ketotifen.
Doing some comparison shopping can save you money.
It’s also important to read the labels and make sure you’re getting the ingredients you want.
Decongestant eye drops might sound useful because they shrink blood vessels and “get the red out,” but they are very drying and irritating. And they don’t treat the root of the problem—the allergic reaction. Look for and avoid naphazoline HCl (Visine-A, Clear Eyes, All Clear).
For allergy eyes, the best eye drops are those that contain the active ingredient ketotifen. It’s a combination antihistamine/mast cell stabilizer, which means it’s specifically for treating allergic reactions.
Alaway, Zaditor, and Claritin Eye all contain ketotifen. Some stores also have a generic version. Buy whichever is least expensive.
Related post: Save money on eye drops
I use Zaditor twice a day as recommended. I also wait 10 minutes before putting in my contacts. My eye doctor told me I could use the drops every day during allergy season.
The eye drops can be used on kids over the age of 3, too.
If your eyes are bothering you too much and you choose to go see your doctor, keep in mind that the prescription antihistamine eye drops can be much more expensive. Think about your deductible and prescription co-pays.
For example, the brand name antihistamine eye drop Patanol (olopatadine) costs about $250 for a 5ml vial! Go for the generic, which is less than $50. Elestat (epinastine) is about $200 for 5ml; the generic version is less than $40.
The first time I used Zaditor it was still prescription only. That was several years ago, and when I went to my pharmacy to have the prescription filled I was shocked to learn that tiny vial would cost me over $70!
Allergy eye sufferers are lucky that several brands of ketotifen are available over the counter now.