There are several ways that allergies can affect the eyes: redness, itching, and watering.
Current treatments for ocular allergies consist of avoidance, cool compress, and antihistamines. For people who don’t want to take an allergy pill, or those who aren’t getting enough relief from allergy pills, there is the option of allergy eye drops. All the drops below are dual action meaning that they have antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer effects. Both antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers work better if taken BEFORE exposure to the allergen, so it is recommended to start taking your drops a few weeks before allergy season starts. Over-the-counter options include Zaditor and Optivar. Prescription options include Bepreve and Pataday (although Pataday may now be available over the counter in some places).
What about Visine?
Visine is a great drop for getting the red out, however it is not meant to be used long-term. I will recommend Visine for special occasions when someone wants to mask the redness, but this is not a good long-term solution.
Link with Glaucoma
Some people also use a steroid nasal spray such as Flonase or Nasonex. It is well documented that certain people are susceptible to a side effect of increased eye pressure from long term steroid use. Increased eye pressure can lead to a permanent eye disease called glaucoma. It is recommended to have your eye pressure checked after 2 months of daily steroid use. This risk is substantially higher if you already have glaucoma or have a strong family history of glaucoma.
There is a new daily disposable contact lens coming to the Canadian market this year which contains a steady release triple action allergy medication, without added preservatives. This could be a game changes for some people who find difficulty getting into the habit of regular use of antihistamines. The effect of the antihistamine in the contact lens starts within 15 minutes of insertion and can last 7-12 hours.