Visine Drops for Eye Allergies

Visine and many other over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops are not good choices for the treatment of eye allergies. Many OTC eye drops contain topical decongestants, such as naphazoline and tetrahydrozoline, which act to decrease redness of the eyes. Some OTC eye drops combine topical decongestants and topical antihistamines, such as those found in Visine-A and Opcon-A.

While these various eye drops are effective for the short-term relief of eye redness, as well as eye itching when the topical antihistamine is added, the long-term use of topical decongestants can lead to side effects.

Woman on a white background scratching the corner of her eye
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Becoming Dependent on Eye Drops

When topical decongestant eye drops such as Visine are used regularly, physical dependence on the eye drop can develop. The benefit of the eye drop lasts for less and less time with continued use, and the redness and swelling of the eye may actually get worse as the medicine wears off.

This results in the need to use the eye drops multiple times per day to keep eye redness under control.

The dependence on topical decongestant eye drops is known as conjunctivitis medicamentosa

This condition gets better several days after the topical decongestant eye drops are stopped and may require the use of other therapies, such as cold compresses, lubricant eye drops, and even short-term treatment with topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or steroid eye drops.

There are better choices for OTC eye drops for the treatment of eye allergies, including ketotifen, which is a topical antihistamine and mast-cell-stabilizing eye drop. Ketotifen is marketed under the brands Zaditor, Alaway, Claritin Eye, Zyrtec Eye, and Visine All-Day Eye Itch Relief, as well as in generic versions.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Drug warnings. Tetrahydrozoline. Pubchem. U.S. National Library of Medicine. May 31, 2019.

  2. Ketotifen. Drug Information Portal. U.S. National Library of Medicine. May 2021.

Additional Reading
  • Spector SL, Raizman MB. Conjunctivitis Medicamentosa. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1994 Jul;94(1):134-6.