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The most common cause of eye inflammation? Run-of-the-mill allergies. According to research published in the Cochrane Library, the itching, redness, and tearing associated with eye inflammation is most commonly caused by indoor and outdoor allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.

The good news is that, according to the research, over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops that block histamine response can help to alleviate symptoms. If you’re experiencing eye discomfort due to allergies, read on to find our picks for the nine best eye drops to choose from.

But first, some background information: The reason you’re experiencing the allergic response to begin with is because your body detects pollen or dust mites as something harmful, and in response releases several chemicals, including histamine. Histamine causes inflammation, which leads to unpleasant symptoms.

There are essentially two kinds of drops to support your allergic eyes: those that help to address the histamine release (known as antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers), and those that help to lubricate the eye and calm down some of the irritation more generally.

Here are some of the common active ingredients found in eye drops that can support you when you’re dealing with allergies:

  • Ketotifen, pheniramine, and olopatadine are antihistamines often found in allergy eye drops. By blocking histamine — either throughout the whole body with an oral antihistamine or locally when directly applied to the eye — you can feel relief from your allergy symptoms.
  • Naphazoline is a decongestant that relieves the symptoms of red eyes from irritation, such as seen in an allergic reaction.
  • Carboxymethylcellulose and glycerin are what’s known as “ophthalmic lubricants” which help to generally lubricate the eye and lock in moisture. Just like you put moisturizing cream on dry skin to relieve irritation — that’s the same purpose of this ingredient in an eye drop.
  • Hypromellose is a common lubricant for dry and irritated eyes.
  • Polyethylene glycol relieves dry, irritated eyes.

Note that you should stay away from overuse of redness-reducing eye drops. They have something called vasoconstrictors that are not safe for long-term use.

For contact lens wearers, most of the eye drops for allergies in the list below cannot be used with contacts in the eye. It’s recommended to remove contact lenses, put the eye drops in, wait 15 minutes, and then the contact lenses can be safely worn again. If you want to use eye drops while wearing your contact lenses, check out our best eye drops for contact lens wearers on this list.

We chose eye drops that featured the tried-and-true, allergy-alleviating active ingredients listed above. We also focused on those from well-known brands with a strong reputation and market presence. Finally, we went for those with a solid customer reputation — if a product did not have more than 4 stars and 100 reviews on Amazon, it didn’t make the cut.

Pricing guide

We included eye drops with a range of price points using the following guide:

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best overall eye drops for allergies

Bausch + Lomb Alaway Antihistamine Eye Drops

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredient: ketotifen
  • How to use: one drop in the affected eye(s) twice daily (8 to 12 hours)
  • How long the effects last: 12 hours

When it comes to the highest-rated and reviewed allergy eye drops on Amazon, customers say these drops rule — with 4.5 stars and almost 9,000 ratings. That may be because they contain the king of antihistamine ingredients: ketotifen.

Pros

  • works for up to 12 hours
  • prescription strength for quick relief
  • clinically tested

Cons

  • cannot be used with contact lenses in the eyes

Best once-daily eye drops for allergies

Pataday Once Daily Relief

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredient: olopatadine
  • How to use: one drop in the affected eye(s) once a day
  • How long the effects last: 24 hours

Those who find it easier to take their drops once a day may appreciate these extra-strength eye drops from Pataday, containing olopatadine. Though not quite as common as ketotifen, olopatadine is effective at blocking the histamine that’s causing your peepers so much discomfort.

Note that though they are priced higher, because you only use one dose a day, they’re actually comparable in price to the other antihistamines on the list.

Pros

  • only one dose needed daily
  • ingredients known for blocking histamine response
  • approved for use in children (over 2 years old)

Cons

  • cannot be used with contact lenses in the eyes
  • cannot be reapplied if effects wear off

Best antihistamine eye drops with redness reliever

Visine Allergy Eye Relief Multi-Action Antihistamine & Redness Reliever Eye Drops

  • Price: $
  • Active ingredients: pheniramine, naphazoline hydrochloride
  • How to use: one to two drops in the affected eye(s) up to four times a day
  • How long the effects last: not indicated

Those that want to block their histamine response and reduce eye redness may want to consider these highly-rated drops from the well-known brand Visine. In addition to the antihistamine pheniramine, they also contain naphazoline hydrochloride for redness relief.

Pros

  • dual-purpose
  • clinically tested
  • cheaper

Cons

  • redness-relievers should not be used long-term
  • cannot be used with contact lenses in the eyes
  • relief may not last as long

Best cooling eye drops

Rohto Ice All-in-One Multi-Symptom Relief Cooling Eye Drops

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: hypromellose, lubricant tetrahydrozoline, redness reliever zinc sulfate
  • How to use: one or two drops in the affected eye(s) up to four times a day
  • How long the effects last: 8 hours

For eyes that burn, you may want to check out these cooling drops from Rohto. Though they don’t actually contain any antihistamines, they do intend to target eight common symptoms of allergies: redness, dryness, irritation, itchiness, burning, grittiness, stinging, and watery eyes.

Pros

  • targets multiple symptoms
  • fast-acting
  • good for eye strain

Cons

  • does not block histamine
  • has to be reapplied up to four times per day
  • cannot be used with contact lenses in the eyes

Best itch relief eye drops for allergies

Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredient: ketotifen
  • How to use: one drop in the affected eye(s) twice daily (every 8 to 12 hours)
  • How long the effects last: 12 hours

These ketotifen-based antihistamine eye drops target itchy eyes, claiming to reduce itchiness for up to 12 hours. Customers gave these prescription-strength drops high ratings, reporting that they felt improvement in their symptoms quickly.

Pros

  • does not contain vasoconstrictor (that reduce redness) so can be used in children age 3 and up
  • fast-acting
  • works for 12 hours

Cons

  • cannot be used while contacts are in the eyes
  • contains preservatives

Best eye drops for sensitive eyes

Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol
  • How to use: one or two drops in the affected eye(s) as needed.
  • How long the effects last: not indicated

These eye drops do not contain antihistamines, but instead use polyethylene glycol to relieve allergy and dry eye symptoms, such as burning, dryness, and irritation. The ingredients included, and the preservatives excluded, make these a particularly solid option for those with sensitive eyes.

Pros

  • fact-acting relief of dry eyes
  • preservative-free
  • good for dry eyes

Cons

  • does not contain any antihistamines
  • not clinical-strength

Best eye drops for dry eyes

Thera Tears Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredient: carboxymethylcellulose
  • How to use: one or two drops in the affected eye(s) as needed
  • How long the effects last: not indicated

Managing dry eyes during allergy season is difficult. That’s because in some cases, antihistamines can actually cause dry eyes as a side effect. To err on the side of caution in that regard, these Thera Tears lubricating drops are designed to support dry eyes during allergy season more generally.

Though they contain no antihistamines, they contain carboxymethylcellulose to help lubricate the eyes. They also use an electrolyte formula that aims to improve the salt imbalance that can cause dry eye symptoms.

Pros

  • replicates healthy tears to help lubricate the eyes
  • preservative-free

Cons

  • does not contain antihistamines
  • targeted for those with dry eyes only

Best eye drops for contact lens wearers

Refresh Optive Lubricant Eye Drops

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: carboxymethylcellulose and glycerin
  • How to use: one or two drops in the affected eye(s) as needed
  • How long the effects last: not indicated

The thing that contact lens wearers have to keep in mind is the use of preservatives, which are not recommended for those wearing contacts. These are preservative-free so contact lens wearers can grab that dropper without an issue. These drops use carboxymethylcellulose and glycerin to help lubricate, hydrate, and soothe.

Pros

  • can be used while contacts are in
  • can be used after Lasik or other eye surgeries
  • fast-acting lubrication of the eye

Cons

  • does not contain an antihistamine
  • they come in separate small vials which may be difficult to open for some

Best homeopathic eye drops for allergies

Similasan Allergy Eye Relief Eye Drops

  • Price: $
  • Active ingredients: euphrasia, sabadilla, apis mellifica
  • How to use: two to three drops in the affected eye(s) as needed
  • How long the effects last: not indicated

The Similasan brand, from Switzerland, says it prides itself on its preservative-free formula that claims to use natural botanical extracts to stimulate the body’s defenses against allergens. It uses euphrasia, a wildflower known to temporarily relieve eye irritation, sabadilla, a Mexican plant used to treat allergies, and honeybee extract to help with your body’s natural reaction to pollen allergies.

Pros

  • made from natural, botanical ingredients
  • supports the body’s natural response
  • can be used while wearing contact lenses

Cons

  • contains no antihistamines
  • may not be as effective as nonbotanical options in treating eyes with allergic reactions

NamePriceActive ingredientsHow long effects lastKey features
Bausch + Lomb Alaway Antihistamine Eye Drops$$ketotifen12 hoursworks on the cause of the eye allergy to relieve allergy symptoms; clinically tested
Pataday Once Daily Relief$$$ olopatadine24 hoursprevents allergic reactions by blocking the chemicals causing the symptoms; only need a drop that lasts up to 24 hours
Visine Allergy Relief Multi-Action Antihistamine + Redness Reliever$pheniramine, naphazoline hydrochloridenot indicatedcontains antihistamine; clinically tested to relieve eye allergy symptoms
Rohto Ice All-in-One Multi-Symptom Relief Cooling Eye Drops$$hypromellose, lubricant tetrahydrozoline, redness reliever zinc sulfate8 hours contains CoolSense™ technology meant to give immediate and lasting cooling relief to the eyes; works for up to 8 hours
Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops$$ketotifen12 hoursrelieves dry eyes with just a drop for up to 12 hours; doesn’t contain a vasoconstrictor
Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops$$polyethylene glycol, propylene glycolnot indicatedhas no antihistamine; has no preservatives
Thera Tears Eye Drops for Dry Eyes$$carboxymethylcellulosenot indicatedrelieves dry eye symptoms by correcting the salt imbalance that causes these symptoms; no antihistamines
Refresh Optive Lubricant Eye Drops$$$carboxymethylcellulose, glycerinnot indicatedno preservatives; good for people with sensitive eyes
Similasan Allergy Eye Relief Eye Drops$euphrasia, sabadilla, apis mellificanot indicated made with natural ingredients meant to stimulate the body’s natural defenses against allergens and relieve symptoms

Any eye drop for allergies may relieve your allergy symptoms. But those that work on histamine release tend to work faster and longer.

Although most can take histamine-blocking eye drops, you should speak with a doctor first about using these eye drops if:

  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding
  • you have health conditions like kidney disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, urinary retention, or high eye pressure

Eye drops that lubricate and hydrate the eyes to relieve eye allergy symptoms are generally safe for all and come with mild to no side effects. The recommended dose of some of these eye drops allows you to use them as often as needed. You can choose these eye drops if you’re more comfortable using them, or you can’t use antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers.

Still, if your symptoms last or get worse after 72 hours, see a doctor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seeing a doctor if:

  • your symptoms get worse or don’t improve — most manufacturers say you should do this after 72 hours of using their eye drops
  • you have a weakened immune system, and you develop an eye allergy
  • you develop symptoms including eye pain, light sensitivity or blurred vision that doesn’t get better when you clean any discharge in your eyes, and intense eye redness
  • it’s a newborn that shows symptoms of eye allergy

Do eye drops help with allergies?

Yes. Eye drops relieve eye allergy symptoms by blocking histamines or soothing and lubricating the eyes.

How do you fix dry eyes?

You can relieve dry eyes by using a cold compress, artificial tears, or eye drops that treat dry eyes. You don’t need a prescription to get these dry eye reliefs.

Can eye drops damage your eyes?

Eye drops for relieving allergies should not damage your eyes if you follow the directions for using them. However, if your symptoms stay the same or worsen after using as prescribed, see a doctor immediately.

Can saline solution be used as eye drops?

Saline solutions are hydrating and can help relieve mild symptoms of eye allergy. But if they don’t work, it’s advisable to go for non-prescription eye drop medicines.

Do eye drops help with pink eye?

Yes, you can use over-the-counter artificial tears to help with the dryness caused by pink eye, but check with your healthcare professional to see what type of pink eye you may have. If the pink eye is viral, your doctor may prescribe antivirals, but if the pink eye is bacterial, your healthcare professional may prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Other treatments for allergies can help alleviate all symptoms, including those affecting your eyes. Oral antihistamines, with brand names such as Claritin and Zyrtec, work to block the effect of histamine throughout your body. Nasal steroid sprays such as fluticasone, can help to decrease the swelling and irritation in the airways. It’s also possible to find home remedies for treating specific allergy symptoms, such as itchy eyes.

Putting a warm compress on the eyes morning and night can help to keep the oily surface on the eyes flowing, which can in turn help to lubricate them. Also, supplements such as fish oil can help ensure overall eye moisture.

Knowing the source of your allergies, whether indoor or outdoor, is often a good piece of information. An allergist, a doctor trained in treating allergies and other immune problems, can help with this — and perhaps even prescribe allergy shots to prevent your histamine response to begin with.

When it comes to allergy symptoms affecting the eyes specifically, the eye drops on this list can become an important line of defense in your battle with the elements.