Oxnard - Port Hueneme Optometry    Dr. Don Steensma 465 W. Channel Islands Blvd, Port Hueneme, CA 805/486-3585

The cardinal sign of allergy is itching, but your eyes may also be red, swollen or tearing.

Over-the-counter allergy medications include topical decongestants, oral antihistamines, topical antihistamine/mast-cell stabilizer combinations and topical decongestant/antihistamine combinations.

Topical decongestants

These reduce ocular injection and edema. Topical decongestants are prescribed four times daily, typically work within minutes and last about two hours. Chronic use of vasoconstrictors can lead to toxic, follicular reactions and or contact dermatitis.  These medications are usually reserved for acute reactions and should only be used occasionally.  If used frequently they lead to a rebound effect in which less and less relief is achieved and the eyes become more irritated.  In rare cases they can cause glaucoma, a potential cause of blindness.

Refresh Redness Relief ® (phenylephrine HCl 0.12%, Allergan)

Visine ® (tetrahydrozoline HCl 0.05%, McNeil)

Visine L.R.® (oxymetazoline HCL 0.25%, McNeil)

Clear Eyes ® (naphazoline HCl 0.12%, Prestige Brands).


•  Oral antihistamines

These are helpful with eye allergic sumptoms and a concurrent allergic rhinitis, but these drugs have a superficial drying effect on the ocular surface.

Benadryl ® (diphenhydramine, McNeil)

Chlor-Trimeton ® (chlorpheniramine, Schering-Plough)

Claritin ® (loratadine, Schering-Plough). These third-generation antihistamines are generally well tolerated and non-sedating.


•   Topical antihistamine/mast-cell stabilizer combinations

Thses are all different brands with the same active ingredient, ketotifen 0.025%.

These medications work faster than oral antihistamines at relieving ocular symptoms. The antihistamine quickly relieves itching and the mast-cell stabilizer prevents itching for an extended period of time, usually 12 hours.  Dosing is twice a day.

Alaway ® (Bausch + Lomb)

Claritin Eye ® (Schering-Plough)

Refresh Eye Itch Relief ® (Allergan)

Visine All Day Itch Relief ®(McNeil)

Zaditor ® (Novartis).


•  Topical decongestant/antihistamine combinations include both decongestants and antihistamines.

The dosing is up to four times a day during acute symptoms.

Opcon-A ® (naphazoline HCl 0.03%/pheniramine maleate 0.32%, Bausch + Lomb)

Naphcon-A ® (naphazoline HCl 0.025%/pheniramine maleate 0.3%, Alcon)

Visine-A ® (naphazoline HCl 0.025%/pheniramine maleate 0.3%, McNeil).


If these OTC medications do not solve your allergy there are several prescription drops that Dr. Steensma may prescribe for you.

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