Which eye drops are best for itchy eyes?

The following was written by Bill Evans and published in the Coolum and North Shore News, Ask the Professionals page on Friday, 27th April 2012.

Q: Which eye drops are best for itchy eyes?

A: Itchy, red, irritable eyes often arise from ocular allergies. In treating the itch, the drops need to respond effectively to the different phases of the allergy.

Antihistamines such as Naphcon-A act rapidly to fight itch, and are used as the front line of attack in most ocular allergies. Histamine causes the symptoms of itching, excessive tearing, and inflammation on cells on the surface of the eye, and antihistamines block histamine from acting on those cells.

Mast cell stabilizers are slower acting, usually taking weeks to prevent allergy cells known as mast cells from breaking open and releasing histamine and other irritants in the eyes. Drops such as Patanol and Zaditen combine the effects of antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers to provide fast action and long-term relief from allergies.

Other drops such as artificial tears and corticosteroid drops may also be prescribed. For more advice on these drops talk to your optometrist or pharmacist.