Hay fever eye drops
Allergy stabilising and antihistamine eye drops for hay fever relief available to buy online from Dr Fox Pharmacy. Can be combined with nasal sprays and antihistamine tablets.Start order
|Hay fever eye drops||Quantity||Cost|
|Sodium cromoglicate 2%||1 x 10ml bottle||£5.20|
|Sodium cromoglicate 2%||2 x 10ml bottle||£8.90|
|Sodium cromoglicate 2%||3 x 10ml bottle||£12.40|
|Catacrom (sodium cromoglicate 2%, preservative-free)||30 x 0.3mls||£13.90|
|Catacrom (sodium cromoglicate 2%, preservative-free)||60 x 0.3mls||£25.50|
|Catacrom (sodium cromoglicate 2%, preservative-free)||90 x 0.3mls||£37.80|
|Optilast (azelastine 0.05%)||1 x 8ml bottle||£12.80|
|Optilast (azelastine 0.05%)||2 x 8ml bottle||£19.80|
Dr Fox supplies medicine on prescription and charges a small prescription fee based on the order value of each prescription.
Prescriptions are issued by our doctors online and sent electronically to our pharmacy.
|Order value||Prescription fee|
|up to £10||£1.00|
|up to £20||£2.00|
|up to £40||£3.00|
If you have your own private paper prescription please post to our pharmacy (details).
Dr Fox prices are 25%–50% lower than other UK online clinics.
UK delivery only: £2.90 per consultation via Royal Mail Tracked 24 Signed For (1-2 working days with tracking).
Parcel forwarding services are not permitted. Use only UK home or work delivery address.
Returns and refunds - unwanted items can be returned within 14 working days for a full refund.
About eye drops for hay fever
Anti-allergic eye drops are used on their own or combined with tablets and/or nasal sprays as a treatment for hay fever symptoms (sore, red, and runny eyes). Very little of the active drug is absorbed into the body. Combining eye drops with an antihistamine tablet can be more effective than either one alone.
- Contact lenses should be taken out whilst applying hay fever eye drops and you should wait at least 15 minutes before using contact lenses again.
- Bottles should be replaced after 4 weeks.
Dr Fox supplies two types of eye drops:
Sodium cromoglicate 2% eye drops
Sodium cromoglicate eye drops work by stopping the release of the natural substances, including histamine, in your eyes when triggered by an allergic reaction. The histamine causes eye symptoms which include itchy, watery, red, or inflamed eyes, and puffy eyelids. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollens. Viral conjunctivitis can give similar symptoms. If you are not sure that you have hay fever, consult an optician or your regular doctor.
Sodium cromoglicate 2% is available from several pharmaceutical companies under various brand names, e.g. Allercrom, Opticrom, Optrex. Most brands contain the preservative benzalkonium chloride, but Dr Fox also supplies Catacrom which is preservative-free.
- Directions: 1-2 drops in each eye four times a day.
Optilast eye drops
Optilast is an antihistamine (azelastine). Antihistamines work by preventing the effects of histamine which the body produces as part of an allergic reaction.
- Directions: 1 drop in each eye twice a day (morning and evening). Can be increased to four times a day for short periods if necessary.
- Maximum use: 6 weeks.
How to use eye drops
- Wash your hands and clean the eye area with a clean tissue.
- Tilt head back and gently pull lower eyelid down.
- Squeeze drops inside the lower eyelid without touching your eye.
- Release your lower eyelid and gently press on the inner corner of your eye, against the bridge of the nose.
- Keeping your finger pressed against your nose, slowly blink your eyes a few times to spread the drop across the surface of your eye.
- Wipe away any excess liquid from the eyes with a clean tissue.
- Repeat process with the other eye.
- Replace cap on bottle.
You may find this easier to do when sat in front of a mirror. Use regularly during the hay fever season - if you stop, your allergy symptoms may come back.
Possible side effects
All medicines can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. If itching, redness, or swelling gets worse after use you may actually be allergic to the eye drops (usually the preservative) and should stop using them.
You may notice stinging or burning in your eyes, mild irritation, or blurring of eyesight, or bitter taste in the mouth. This should only last for a short time and occurs immediately after using the eye drops.
If any side effects are serious or do not resolve after a short time consult a doctor or optician as soon as possible.
Preservatives in eye drops
Most sodium cromoglicate and Optilast eye drops contain the preservative benzalkonium chloride. In some people this can cause eye irritation, especially if already suffering from dry eyes. If persistent stinging or pain develops after use, do not use the eye drops again and see a GP.
There is a possibility that in some people frequent or long-term use of eye drops containing benzalkonium chloride preservative can lead to damage to the cornea of the eye, and so hay fever eye drops should be used for the shortest time necessary.
Benzalkonium chloride is absorbed by soft contact lenses and may change their colour. Eye drops should not be used whilst wearing contact lenses. Manufacturers recommend waiting at least 15 minutes after putting in eye drops before reinserting your contact lenses.
Catacrom benzalkonium-free sodium cromoglycate eye drops are available from Dr Fox. The drops are in single dose sterile droppers.
Alternative treatments for hay fever
If asthma is a significant associated feature of hay fever, your GP may prescribe montelukast tablets. If your hay fever also triggers asthma which doesn't settle with your usual asthma treatment please consult your regular doctor.
Severe hay fever symptoms which are not responding to antihistamine tablets with nasal sprays and eye drops, can be controlled by a short course of a few days of steroid tablets. Dr Fox cannot provide this. Please consult your regular doctor.
Many hay fever sufferers used to have an annual long-acting steroid injection of Kenalog (triamcinolone). This is very effective at damping down the overactive immune response causing hay fever, for the duration of the hay fever season. However, it is no longer recommended by NICE or licensed as a hay fever treatment, as there are health risks from lowering your immune responses, and there can also be serious long term side effects. Some private clinics do, however, still offer this injection 'off label' after a careful assessment of personal risks.
Another technique which is now rarely used is pollen desensitisation using allergen immunotherapy as either a vaccine or oral preparation. It is available from some hospital specialists. However, there is a potential for life threatening anaphylactic reactions during desensitisation treatments.
How to avoid exposure to pollen
- Using vaseline around your nostrils. This can trap pollen and stop it getting into your nose.
- Avoid grass cutting and places where pollen counts are known to be high.
- Vacuum regularly, preferably using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Keep pets out of the house during the hay fever season.
- Stay indoors when pollen counts are high. You can check the pollen forecast or there are many helpful apps available.
- Keep windows and doors closed.
- Wraparound sunglasses can reduce pollen contact with the eyes.
- Shower after going outside.
- NHS - Sodium cromoglicate eye drops
- AllergyUK - Allergic Eye Disease
- Association of Optometrists - Allergic conjunctivitis
Hay fever eye drops FAQs
How do I choose which eye drops to use?
In general, people start by using a sodium cromoglicate eye drop for hay fever. However this takes a few days of regular use to stabilise the allergy reaction. More immediate relief is obtained from using azelastine antihistamine eye drops.
How long should I use eye drops for?
The manufacturer recommends that Optilast should be used for a maximum of 6 weeks. Sodium cromoglicate can be used for as long as necessary, but should be stopped once the hay fever season has passed.
Can I use the eye drops more often?
Sodium cromoglicate drops need to be used 4 times a day. More frequent use will not be of benefit.
Optilast azelastine eye drops are recommended initially for twice daily use but can be used up to four times a day for short periods if needed.
See also hay fever FAQs page.
Patient Information Leaflets
The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine and must be read before taking the medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine.
This page written and reviewed by doctors
- Aspire Pharma, 2020, Sodium Cromoglicate 2% w/v Eye Drops, solution: Summary of Product Characteristics, accessed 13 November 2023
- Mylan, 2018, Optilast 0.5 mg / ml Eye Drops: Summary of Product Characteristics, accessed 13 November 2023
- Rayner, 2022, Catacrom Sodium Cromoglicate 2% Preservative Free Unit Dose Eye Drops: Summary of Product Characteristics, accessed 13 November 2023
The order process
Choose medication, register, and pay
Dr Fox issues prescription online
Pharmacy team post medication direct
“Excellent, prompt service.”12 October 2023 – Alistair S.
“Fantastic service. Quick, efficient & ethical. But best of all, accessible & affordable. No room for improvement!”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Easy to use, good price Always easy to order from, re-order facility easy (& saves time)! Super quick delivery, great prices, also do feel if you have any q’s they are there to help.”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Excellent prompt service”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“A good and efficient service”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Very good service as usual”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Quick delivery, queries answered”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Excellent service, reasonable prices and good choice of products”12 October 2023 – Barry S.
“So easy to use. And safe. Sadly online services like this are the way forward. If you can't get an appointment. Would use this again.”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Very fast delivery upon request. Much appreciated.”12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Absolutely fantastic service very fast delivery&dquo;12 October 2023 – Anonymous
“Fast and impressed with service”11 October 2023 – Andrea B.