You may be a hay fever veteran or new to the season of sneezing and streaming. There’s an array of hay fever eye drops available, so let our resident pharmacist take you through where to start and how to choose between them.
Hay fever tablets or liquid, also known as oral antihistamines are a good place to start if you have multiple hay fever symptoms. They aim to dampen down the overall immune response, which is driven by the release of histamine from mast cells. Starting antihistamines early is key to keeping symptoms under control, ideally a couple of weeks before your particular pollen season. You may want to treat a single symptom, such as itchy or streaming eyes, and this is where eye drops can help.
Sodium cromoglicate 2% products, such as Opticrom eye drops, are available over-the-counter for those aged 6 and above. This active ingredient is not classed as an antihistamine but works to reduce the release of histamine in the eyes and suppress allergy symptoms there. It’s applied four times a day, and can be used as a standalone treatment or alongside oral antihistamines. The advantage of sodium cromoglicate is that it’s available to buy over-the-counter. Intranasal or eye drop antihistamines require a prescription, but may be preferred as they last longer, and therefore need applying less often.
Antihistamine eye drops such as Optilast (contains olopatadine) or Azelast (contains azelastine) only need to be applied twice daily. Targeted antihistamine products can be prescribed for those aged 6 and over.