The 7 Best Eye Drops for Allergies, Tested and Reviewed

Dotdash Meredith and Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.

Our top pick targets the root cause of eye allergies to provide immediate relief.

<p>Health / David Hattan</p>

Health / David Hattan

Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, affect up to 30% of the population. Allergies of the eye occur when your body’s immune system reacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen, by releasing chemicals to fight what it sees as an invader. These chemicals cause bothersome symptoms, including itching, redness, watery eyes, or a burning sensation.

"Eye allergies can be debilitating, demoralizing, depressing, and make it difficult to function," says Rahul Pandit, MD, an ophthalmologist at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. As a long-term eye allergy sufferer, Dr. Pandit emphasizes the burden this condition can have on a person's life. Fortunately, science has evolved, and new treatments are available to help make eye allergies more manageable. Over-the-counter medications, prescription drops, oral antihistamines, and allergen avoidance may all help control symptoms.

When choosing an allergy eye drop, it's important to consider the active ingredients and its benefits. The most common active ingredients include antihistamines, vasoconstrictors, and lubricating agents. To determine which eye drops are best for allergies, we tested allergy drops in our Lab for their effectiveness in relieving symptoms, ease of use, and other factors.

Best Overall: Naphcon-A Eye Drops

Buy at

Buy at

Why We Like It: One of the active ingredients in Naphcon-A is naphazoline hydrochloride. This powerful vasoconstrictor reduces redness and eye irritation by narrowing the blood vessels in the eyes.

It’s Worth Noting: Overusing Naphcon-A drops can cause rebound hyperemia, a condition where your eyes become increasingly red and irritated from lack of oxygen.

Environmental triggers are all around us and often cause uncomfortable eye irritation. Naphcon-A Ophthalmic Eye Drops offer fast relief of itchy, red eyes due to allergen exposure. This powerhouse drop contains two active ingredients that work together to combat symptoms: naphazoline hydrochloride and pheniramine maleate.

While naphazoline hydrochloride targets the blood vessels in the eyes to reduce redness, pheniramine maleate is an antihistamine that combats allergy-related inflammation. We noticed a visible decrease in redness, swelling, and itchiness almost immediately during testing. Bonus points were given because it didn’t sting or burn after application—one of the dreaded side effects of many eye drops. Overall, we found Naphcon-A Ophthalmic Eye Drops effective and reliable for seasonal allergies.

Price at time of publication: $13

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Naphazoline hydrochloride, pheniramine maleate

  • Recommended Dose: Up to two drops in the affected eye(s) up to four times daily

  • Size: 0.5 fl oz

Best for Watery Eyes: Bausch & Lomb Opcon-A Allergy Eye Drops

Buy at

Buy at

Why We Like It: The antihistamine in this formula helps alleviate allergy-related watery eyes without breaking the bank.

It’s Worth Noting: If you wear contact lenses, you should remove them before application and wait 15 minutes before inserting them again.

Watery eyes happen when an allergen causes your body to produce and release histamines, a natural chemical responsible for fighting off allergies. While it's the body's way of protecting itself, watery and itchy eyes are definitely bothersome. Opcon-A Eye Itch & Redness Relief contains the same active ingredients as our best overall pick, including an antihistamine and a vasoconstrictor.

Together, you get relief from allergies and redness. We were impressed by how quickly this product worked, and the fact that we only needed to apply the drops once daily. We also appreciated the child-proof cap. The price point and utility make this product an attractive option for those suffering from significant eye irritation due to allergies.

Price at time of publication: $10

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Naphazoline hydrochloride, pheniramine maleate

  • Recommended Dose: Up to two drops in the affected eye(s) up to four times daily

  • Size: 0.5 fl oz

Best for Itchy Eyes: Bausch + Lomb Alaway Antihistamine Eye Drops

Buy at

Buy at

Why We Like It: Alaway's formula is designed explicitly for itchy eyes so you can expect fast relief from redness and irritation.

It’s Worth Noting: It isn't ideal for those who experience contact-lens-related itching or discomfort.

Alaway Antihistamine Eye Itch Relief is a standout choice for those with itchy eyes due to seasonal allergies. This eye drop contains the active ingredient ketotifen fumarate, which is an allergen-specific antihistamine. It works by blocking the release of histamines that cause your eyes to become watery and itchy when exposed to allergens.

One of our favorite features was that the drops didn't cause dryness, even with regular use. We experienced fast-acting relief and also noticed a long-term improvement in ocular discomfort. Unlike Naphcon-A (our best overall pick), there was temporary stinging upon application—but it quickly subsided, and the relief was well worth it.

Price at time of publication: $12

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Ketotifen fumarate

  • Recommended Dose: One drop in the affected eye(s) up to twice daily

  • Size: 0.34 fl oz

Best for Minimal Application: ALCON Pataday Once Daily Relief

Buy at

Buy at

Why We Like It: Pataday's formula only requires one drop per day, so you don't have to worry about remembering to bring your eye drops with you.

It’s Worth Noting: These drops don't target redness, so you're out of luck if you have visible signs of irritation.

If you're looking for a one-and-done solution for eye allergies, Pataday Once Daily Relief may be just that. This once-daily drop contains olopatadine hydrochloride, an antihistamine that prevents histamine release to prevent an allergic response. Pet dander, pollen, grass, ragweed, and other environmental allergens don't stand a chance against this therapeutic drop.

Unlike other eye drops, Pataday only requires one daily application, so there’s no need to worry about applying drops when you're out and about. We especially appreciate how regular use minimizes excessive rubbing, which can lead to contamination and the spreading of bacteria. And of course, not much can beat the convenience of a single dose.

Price at time of publication: $35

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Olopatadine hydrochloride

  • Recommended Dose: One drop on the affected eye(s) once daily

  • Size: 0.085 fl oz

Best for Mild Symptoms: TheraTears Extra Dry Eye Therapy

Buy at

Buy at

Why We Like It: These lubricating drops replenish the vital electrolytes in your natural tears.

It’s Worth Noting: Since they don't contain an antihistamine, these drops don't reduce the severity of your allergic response.

TheraTears work differently than our antihistamine picks, as they are designed to provide lubrication and hydration to the eye. The unique formula contains electrolytes, which are critical components of natural tears. The electrolytes help replace lost moisture and reduce dry eye symptoms like grittiness, burning, stinging, and excessive watering. Yes, dry eyes cause tearing despite the lack of moisture.

We found these drops work best for milder dryness and irritation; you can apply them as often as needed throughout the day. The instant refreshment was especially welcome, as we didn't experience any stinging or burning with application. However, these drops alone won't provide long-term relief from allergies. For that, you'll need an antihistamine drop like Naphcon-A or Alaway.

Price at time of publication: $18

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Sodium carboxy-methylcellulose

  • Recommended Dose: Up to two drops in the affected eye(s) as needed

  • Size: 1.0 fl oz

Best Soothing Sensation: Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops

Buy at

Buy at

Why We Like It: The individual vials of preservative-free solution are a convenient way to add moisture to your ocular lens for lasting relief.

It’s Worth Noting: You shouldn't use this product if you're allergic or sensitive to boric acid.

Systane is well-known in the eyecare space for good reason. Its products have one goal—to keep your eyes hydrated. Systane Ultra-Lubricant Drops do just that with its moisture-rich active ingredients: polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol. Both act as humectants, which means they draw in and retain moisture from the surrounding air to promote hydration.

It also creates a protective barrier to prevent further moisture loss. We loved the easy application, though the single-use vials could create a waste problem with regular use. We noticed an excess of liquid in each vial after use, which is unfortunate because the manufacturer notes that any remaining solution should be immediately discarded. Thankfully, full bottle sizes are available for those who prefer to reduce waste. We noticed rapid relief, so it's safe to say the product succeeds in its mission to soothe and protect your eyes.

Price at time of publication: $13

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol

  • Recommended Dose: Up to two drops in the affected eye(s) as needed

  • Size: 25 vials with 0.7 mL each

Best for Broken Blood Vessels: ALCON Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops

Buy at

Buy at

Why We Like It: This fast-acting antihistamine begins working in minutes and lasts up to 12 hours, which is longer than many.

It’s Worth Noting: These drops may sting or cause a burning sensation when first applied.

While broken blood vessels often don't cause noticeable symptoms, the associated eye redness can be discouraging. Allergies can worsen these broken capillaries due to the sneezing, rubbing, and irritation associated with the immune response. We were impressed with Alcon Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops—it contains an antihistamine proven to reduce the effects of eye allergies.

Zatidor helps prevent broken capillaries from forming by targeting the root causes of allergies. It begins working within a few minutes; a single drop in each eye can last up to 12 hours. We found relief from itching and redness soon after application. The only downside was the slight stinging sensation upon initial application—however, this is common with many eye drops, so we didn't mind this too much.

Price at time of publication: $14

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Ketotifen fumarate

  • Recommended Dose: One drop in the affected eye(s) every 12 hours, as needed

  • Size: 0.17 fl oz

Our Testing Process

We tested 13 eye drops for allergies to determine the best ones for combating symptoms associated with allergies in the eyes, including redness, itching, dryness, irritation, and watering. We began the testing process by evaluating the current level of allergy-related eye irritation experienced to get a baseline value. Following the manufacturer's instructions, we washed our hands and applied the drops, pulling the lower eyelid away from the eye to facilitate application.

Depending on each eye drop's specific instructions and recommended dose, we applied the drops once or twice daily or as needed for relief. We monitored the eye drops' effectiveness after at least one week of regular use, though some were used for extended periods. Attributes tested include performance, ease of application, and overall improvement in allergy symptoms.

In addition to thorough testing, we spoke with the following experts:

  • Masako Chen, MD, board-certified, fellowship-trained ophthalmologist specializing in cornea, external diseases, and refractive surgery who practices at Mount Sinai

  • Brad Boyle, OD, optometrist and owner of Advanced Family Eye Care in Cedar Valley, Iowa

  • Rahul Pandit, MD, ophthalmologist at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas

What to Know About Eye Drops for Allergies

What are Eye Allergies?

Eye allergies are the body's reaction to an allergen. When exposed to an allergen, your body releases histamine, a chemical that fights off the allergens. This causes symptoms such as redness, itching, irritation, inflammation, and excessive tearing of the eyes.

Eye allergies can result from many allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Other environmental factors include smoke or pollution. Sometimes, the eyes may be sensitive to specific medications, contact lenses, or solutions. Though the symptoms are often troublesome, allergies aren't contagious and can't be passed from person to person.

Symptoms Treated

The primary symptoms of eye allergies are redness, irritation, itching, and watery eyes. Some people experience a "gritty" sensation described as feeling like sand in the eyes. You may also experience physical symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, or nasal drainage.

Pay attention to your specific symptoms when choosing an eye drop. Some eye drops contain active ingredients that target histamines, which are likely a more effective option if you're experiencing itching and irritation. Other eye drops may contain vasoactive ingredients, which are more effective for redness and swelling. Artificial tears and lubricating drops effectively relieve dryness and improve vision quality related to dry eyes.

Active Ingredients

Each active ingredient in a particular eye drop targets the symptoms of an allergy differently. The following are the most commonly used active ingredients in eye drops for allergies:

  • Ketotifen fumarate: Works to reduce itching, swelling, and redness in the eyes

  • Naphazoline hydrochloride: Helps reduce redness by constricting the blood vessels in the eyes

  • Olopatadine hydrochloride: Helps relieve itching, redness, and inflammation by blocking histamine receptors in the eyes

  • Pheniramine maleate: Works similarly to olopatadine hydrochloride but is often used as a preventative measure against allergies

  • Sodium carboxy-methylcellulose: Helps keep the eyes moist by replenishing and retaining tear fluid

  • Polyethylene glycol: Helps keep tear film from evaporating and keeps the eyes lubricated


The dosage varies depending on the specific eye drop and its active ingredient. Some eye drops may require more frequent application, so reading the directions carefully before use is crucial.

“Some allergy eye drops have stronger concentrations and will last 24 hours instead of only 12 or 8 hours,” explains Brad Boyle, OD, optometrist and owner of Advanced Family Eye Care in Cedar Valley, Iowa. “Patients have a hard time remembering to put drops in throughout the day, so it’s generally best if they can only use one drop that lasts all day.”

Overuse of some eye drops can irritate the eyes and cause further discomfort. Excessive use of antihistamine-based drops can worsen dryness, while those targeting the blood vessels can lead to rebound redness. Follow all instructions included with the product and consult your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you have any questions or concerns.

More Eye Drops for Allergies to Consider

We also tested the below eye drops, but they fell short. Thus, we recommend the above products as better options:

Your Questions, Answered

Is it OK to use eye drops for allergies every day?

It's best only to use eye drops for allergies as needed and directed by a doctor. According to Dr. Pandit, you can develop a tolerance to some eye drops, making them less effective over time. If you experience frequent and severe symptoms, talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about the best treatment plan for long-term relief.

Are eye drops for allergies safe for contact lenses?

According to Dr. Boyl, most allergy drops should be administered 15 minutes before you put contacts in. “Allergy eye drops are often sticky and can cause some discomfort if used with contacts,” he explained. If your contacts are already in your eyes, removing them before using allergy drops is advised. You can use general rewetting drops without removing your contacts, but these should be used in addition to allergy-specific drops—not as a replacement.

Who We Are

Lindsay Modglin is a nurse and journalist with six years of clinical experience in a medical optometry practice. As a health and commerce writer, her byline has been featured in global publications like Forbes, Insider, Verywell, and more. Her goal is to help readers make actionable and informed decisions about the products and services they use to improve their lives.

For more Health news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Health.