If avoidance of allergic triggers fails to prevent symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, some people notice mild benefit from cold compresses on the eyes, and eyewashes with tear substitutes. However, medications may be necessary to treat the symptoms. Medications for allergic conjunctivitis include oral anti-histamines and eye drops.
Many people with allergic eye disease will receive benefit from oral anti-histamines, such as over-the-counter loratadine (Claritin®/Alavert®, generic forms), and prescription cetirizine (Zyrtec®), fexofenadine (Allegra® and generic forms) and desloratadine (Clarinex®). Older, first-generation anti-histamines (such as Benadryl®) are also helpful, but are generally considered too sedating for routine use.
Over-the-counter eye drops
Medicated eye drops are available in over-the-counter and prescription forms. Over-the-counter eye drops for allergic conjunctivitis are currently only available in decongestant (Visine®, Naphcon®, generic forms of naphazoline), and decongestant/anti-histamine combinations (Visine-A®, Naphcon-A®, generic forms of naphazoline/pheniramine).
Decongestant eye drops (with or without anti-histamines) should only be used for short periods of time, as overuse can lead to conjunctivitis medicamentosa (characterized as rebound eye redness/congestion and dependence on the eye drops). These eye drops should not be used by people with glaucoma, and used with caution by people with heart or blood pressure problems. Continue reading