Azelastine eye drops for allergies (Optilast)

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Azelastine drops relieve eye inflammation associated with allergies.

It is usual to use the drops twice each day, although they can be used up to four times a day for severe symptoms.

It is not recommended that you wear soft contact lenses while you are using the drops.

Type of medicineAntihistamine eye drops
Used forTo relieve the symptoms of seasonal or perennial allergic conjunctivitis
Also calledOptilast®
Available asEye drops

Allergic conjunctivitis causes red, watery, itchy eyes. Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis occurs at certain times in a year, a common cause being an allergy to pollen in the hay fever season. Perennial allergic conjunctivitis persists throughout the year. This is commonly due to an allergy to house dust mite or animal hair.

Azelastine eye drops relieve the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis by blocking the action of a chemical called histamine, which is involved in the allergic reaction.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using the eye drops it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant.
  • If you wear soft contact lenses.
  • If the drops are intended for a child under 4 years of age. Azelastine eye drops are not recommended for this age group.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to an antihistamine, or to any other medicine.
  1. Wash your hands before you use the drops.
  2. Remove the cap.
  3. Tilt your head back a little and pull your lower eyelid down to form a pocket between your eyelid and eye.
  4. Hold the bottle upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
  5. Gently squeeze the bottle to release one drop. Only if you think that you have missed your eye should you release a second drop.
  6. Close your eye for a minute or two, and press gently on the side of your nose where the corner of your eye meets your nose.
  7. Repeat the above steps for your other eye.
  8. Replace the cap on the bottle.
  9. Wash your hands again.
  • Before using the eye drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
  • Azelastine eye drops should usually be used twice a day (morning and evening). If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may suggest using them up to four times daily.
  • Do not use the drops for a period of more than six weeks.
  • Take care not to touch your eye, fingers, or any other surface with the dropper of the bottle. This could infect the drops left in the bottle.
  • If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check again with your doctor.
  • If you are using any other eye drops or ointments, leave about ten minutes between applying each one.
  • Do not wear soft contact lenses while you are using azelastine eye drops unless your doctor has advised you otherwise. This is because there is a preservative in the drops which can affect soft contact lenses.
  • When first put in, all eye drops may cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear. Make sure you can see clearly before you drive, or use machines, or do any other jobs which could be dangerous if you were unable to see properly.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common azelastine side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who use these dropsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Blurred vision, eye discomfort (such as burning or stinging), redness and irritationThese usually disappear within a few minutes of applying the eye drops. Do not drive or use tools or machines until your vision is clear

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to these eye drops, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Eye drops only keep for four weeks once the bottle has been opened, so do not use azelastine if the bottle has been open for longer than this. This will help to prevent the risk of eye infections.

If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are safe to use with your other medicines.

Never use more than the prescribed dose.

If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Optilast® 0.5 mg/ml Eye Drops; Meda Pharmaceuticals, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2012.
  • British National Formulary; 65th Edition (Mar 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
3769 (v24)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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