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Antihistamines and Your Eyes – Help Is On the Way!

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If you’re one of the thousands of people suffering from allergies, you can probably guess that the most common symptom is itchy, scratchy, irritated red eyes. Finding relief can be a challenge, especially when you’re looking for something that’s easy to find and readily available over the counter. All over-the-counter (OTC) allergy remedies are not created equal, so it’s important to get some advice from a professional when it’s time to choose the best allergy relief for your only pair of eyes. Luckily, you have a premier Houston eye doctor to guide you in the right direction!

The most common treatment for eye allergies is a liquid antihistamine administered in drop form directly into the eye. Antihistamines are medicines that treat allergies by blocking histamines, chemicals in your body that are produced when you encounter a substance that activates a symptomatic reaction. Some of the most common allergens are pollen, pet dander, and dust. When your body comes in contact with these irritants, it produces histamine, which can cause nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, itching, and of course – red, irritated eyes.

It's always a good idea to meet with your optometrist to have a personalized consultation before you purchase any brand of OTC eye drops. Some of them may meet your needs more effectively, and everyone hates wasting money on one remedy that doesn’t work as well as another would. Talking to your eye doctor can help you avoid the “trial and error” method of selection – you can make the right purchase the first time. It’s especially important to note that some OTC eye drops used to be available by prescription only, and you may not be as familiar with them as you are with brands you’ve seen on the shelves for years.

Pataday is one of these options. It has several positive points to recommend it, including the fact that it is usually very comfortable when administered to the eye. While some users may experience congestion or cold-like symptoms with use, approximately 90% use it with no difficulties at all. It can be used for patients as young as 2 years of age. The average retail price hovers around $22, with once daily and twice daily formulas available. A generic, non-branded version is also available for a lower average cost of $8-15 dollars. You can also save on this medication using a pharmacy app such as GoodRX.

Another choice in this category is Lastacaft. This option is also approved to use in patients as young as two years of age and has the bonus of being safer to use than most other antihistamine eye drops if you happen to be pregnant. This once-a-day medication has been noted to burn a bit when administered to some patients, and it has a slightly higher cost than brand-name Pataday at many retail outlets. Unlike Pataday, it does not have a generic version on the market as of yet. It is also discounted through many pharmacy apps as well.

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid OTC eye drops that claim to reduce or eliminate eye redness. Most drops that remove redness from your eye are made with agents called vasorestrictors, which are not approved for long-term use. The tiny blood vessels in your eyes will dilate and create redness when irritated. The vasorestrictors will push these vessels closed, eliminating the redness. Well-known brands such as Visine, Bausch & Lomb Advanced Redness Relief, and Clear Eyes will temporarily shrink the tiny blood vessels in the eye, but when the treatment wears off, the vessels will dilate again, “rebounding” to become even larger and redder than before. All of these redness clearing medications come with warnings instructing short-term use only, and those warnings should always be heeded if you must use one of these treatments for any reason.

It's also very important to remember that if you have contact lenses, you should not use antihistamine eye drops while you’re wearing them. Always take out your lenses, apply the treatment, and wait at least 15 minutes before putting your lenses back in. There are some comforting eye drops that can be used with contact lenses, but they do not contain antihistamines. Try Refresh Optive with your contact lenses, or consider Similisan, a non-antihistamine treatment made with natural botanical extracts and no preservatives. While it may not be as effective for treating your allergies, it can provide limited assistance when it’s inconvenient to remove and be without your contact lenses for a short time. It is also a choice for those who wish to avoid all but natural ingredients.

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, avoid antihistamine eye drops, as they may make the existing problem even worse. In this case, try TheraTears Eye Drops, designed especially for this condition. They provide additional lubrication to the eye and help correct the salt imbalance that can contribute to dry eye syndrome. They won’t do much for your allergies but can help you manage your dry eye syndrome during high-allergy seasons and provide a little extra comfort.

If you’re “itching” to get relief from eye allergies, consult your premier Houston eye doctor today! Call us at 713-360-7095 to schedule a full vision exam including an eye allergy consultation. You’ll look better, see better, and feel better with some help from Pro-Optix Eye Care!