Ocular Allergy

This time of year is a particularly uncomfortable one for a lot of people. With the coming of warmer weather also comes flowers (and pollen), grass (and mowing), and usually more time outside...which of course leads to some people having red, itchy, swollen, watery eyes. Not usually a dangerous condition, but certainly an annoying and uncomfortable one.

For years we have combated this with prescription topical (eyedrop) antihistamines. Patanol was the big one for years, but I also frequently prescribed optivar and zaditor. Some other common ones are elestat, allocril and livostin. These were/are all precription antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers or combinations.

Jan 1, 2007 Zaditor became available over the counter. It runs about $15 or so for a 5ml bottle. So this summer, you could have relief from itchy, red, watery eyes w/o a visit to the doctor and a w/o a prescription for a $75 bottle of eyedrops. Zaditor OTC is the exact same formula that I wrote hundreds of Rx's for before Jan 1, 2007. Zaditor is made by Novartis.

Alaway is Bausch & Lomb's new OTC antihistamine. It is the same formula as Zaditor. It runs about $12 for a 10ml bottle, so probably a little more cost effective.

For those of you with some serious allergy misery, there's new Rx-only Pataday which is the 1st once-per-day ocular antihistamine. I also Rx a lot of Alrex, a topical steroid/anti-inflammatory that works really, really well for allergy sufferers.

All of the aforementioned Rx and OTC products work better IMO than previously available OTC antihistamines like opcon-a, visine-a, naphcon-a, etc. Those kinds of drugs have generally short duration of action, they STING, and because they contain vasoconstrictors like naphazoline and tetrahydrozoline they cannot generally be safely used for more than about 10 consecutive days.


  1. I have a question... I have painful severe dry eye that keeps getting so bad its affecting my vision. My eye doctor does not know the cause but suggested many drops. I have tried artificial tears with no success. He said it might be allergies.
    However is it normal that my eyes never water and when i put allergy drops they burned my eyes?

    what's your opinion???... right now i'm using no drops for they just irritate them even more.


  2. these cases are not diagnosable via the web. sorry.


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