February 28th, 2011
08:38 AM ET

How can I treat itchy eyes this spring?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Henna, from Virginia

My eyes get very itchy when the weather changes in the spring. What's the best way to treat this? Oral medicines make me very sleepy.

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. I see a lot of patients who suffer from allergies at the first sign of spring. In fact, seasonal allergies are reported to affect at least 20% of the population. Some people have sneezing, runny nose and congestion while others complain more of itchy eyes or a scratchy nose or throat. Oral medications can help counteract all of these allergy symptoms, but if you have only itchy eyes, there are some treatments that may help you that won't make you drowsy.

First, try to avoid environmental allergens by keeping the windows of your home and car closed, and consider the use of an air filter. Refrain from rubbing your eyes and instead use a cool washcloth compress to soothe the itching.

Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops may relieve itchy eyes, or your doctor may recommend OTC or prescription drops containing an antihistamine and/or other anti-allergy medications. There are also some nasal sprays that can treat eye discomfort along with nasal symptoms.

Finally, people with severe symptoms may benefit from allergy shots. Please be sure to talk with your doctor about the best treatment for your specific situation.

Good luck!

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. It's Just Me

    Which nasal spray is good for " There are also some nasal sprays that can treat eye discomfort along with nasal symptoms. " ???

    February 28, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. Jennifer Shu

      Thanks for your question. Veramyst is one nasal spray that has been approved for use for eye allergies in addition to hay fever symptoms in people 12 years and older. (note of disclosure: I have no financial ties to the manufacturer of Veramyst or any allergy medications.)

      February 28, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • Logan

      Veramist and fluticzone (sp??) work well for the eyes

      February 28, 2011 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
  2. Lasciel

    Henna – ask your doctor or optomolgist about the prescription eyedrop Pataday. I have terrible pollen allergies and this helps me.
    (I have no financial ties to any pharm company.)

    February 28, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bethany

      I agree...Pataday is a life saver. I am allergic to my cats (kind of silly I know but I am so attached) and this stuff really helps alot.

      February 28, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  3. coasterwiggs

    OTC allergy eye drops Alaway or Zaditor are great for itchy eyes during the Spring.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. becca

    i'm part of that 20% of spring allergies! Claritin helps me and is non-drowsy.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bad Allergy Sufferer

    I am notorious for using an eyedrop that used to be prescription but is now over the counter, OPCON-A. . .I have been using this eyedrop for years. Whatever eyedrop one uses, I suggest it has an antihistamine in it.

    February 28, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Linda

    Patanol. I've had unbearably itchy eyes during allergy season my whole life, until I discovered Patanol. It's not cheap, but it is sooo worth it.

    February 28, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Joe

    I am an ophthalmologist and see a lot of people with seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. OTC drops (Alaway, Zaditor, and Zyrtec) work as well as Patanol. All must be used twice daily and consistantly to work. Max benefits seen after about 3 days of use.

    February 28, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Shane

    I had horrable allergies to all types of things (cats, dust, pollen, tree mixes, grass, etc.). I was getting allergy shots and taking a Allegra D. The shots were horrible – I couldn't get past the very low levels and had bad reactions at the injection sites everytime. I finally gave in and tried an accupuncture treatment. It has worked wonders. My insurance covered the shots and medicine, but wouldn't cover the accupuncture. I now seem to be allergy free (going on 3 years). I only had to get about 12 acu treatments. I would definately recommended trying it, but check how they treat them. The accupuncturist I went to treated each allergy and used vials of the allergen to determine what I needed to be treated for. It cost me a pretty penny at $50 per treatment, but was well worth it. The accupuncturist said I may need to be re-treated someday...we will see.

    February 28, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. mplaya

    My daughter had such bad allergiy eyes last year I thought it was pink eye – turns out it was ALLERGIC conjunctivitis, not the viral (pink eye) strain. He said in the past few years it's increased alot – he said to pick up some NAPHCON-A and we did – it helped her a lot – she still had some issues, but those drops "cut through" the sticky gooey eyes. She also takes citrizine (Zyrtec) for her allergies. I hope this year is a bit better for her – she really was miserable. Sadly I remember going through that when I was her age – in the days when ARM (allergy relief medicine) and Chlor-trimetons were just hitting the shelves.....

    February 28, 2011 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Karen

    On more very simple help for itchy eyes. Wash your face during the day to remove allergens. Use mild soap and cool water and be sure to wash around your eyes and splash thoroughly to rinse. If your face is coated with microscopic bits of pollen from the environment, eye drops will only work as a bandaid.

    February 28, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Z

    I suffered from a lifetime of seasonal allergies and then discovered a couple of years ago that minimizing my gluten intake (mainly cutting way down on how much wheat I eat) made them disappear. A miraculous turn of events for me! Consider a break from common food allergens and see what happens.

    February 28, 2011 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jan Chanin

    Allergy symptoms occur when your immune system overreacts to an allergen—something that usually is harmless, such as plant pollen, dust mites, molds, insect stings or food. If you have an allergy, your immune system acts as if the allergen were dangerous, releasing a chemical called histamine that causes allergy symptoms.

    June 7, 2013 at 05:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Francis Nedry

    Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions in children and adults. It is an inflammation of the thin, clear lining inside the eyelid and on the white of the eye. This inflammation gives the eye a pink or reddish color.:.':

    Newly released write-up from our new blog site <http://www.healthmedicinejournal.com

    July 1, 2013 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 8, 2019 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
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