Sodium cromoglicate eye drops

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Sodium cromoglicate drops are used to treat red, watery, itchy eyes caused by allergies such as hay fever.

Use the drops in both eyes - use one drop four times a day. 

Eye drops may cause blurred vision when first put in. Wait until this clears before you drive or use tools or machines.

Type of medicine Anti-inflammatory eye drops
Used for Relieving the eye symptoms of allergies such as hay fever
Also called Allercrom®; Catacrom®; Cromolux®; Opticrom®; Optrex Allergy®; Pollenase Allergy®; Vividrin®
Available as Eye drops and single-use eye drops

Allergic conjunctivitis causes red, watery, itchy eyes. A common cause is an allergy to pollen in the hay fever season. Other less common causes are allergies to house dust mite, cosmetics, and problems with contact lenses.

Sodium cromoglicate eye drops relieve the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis by reducing the release of a chemical called histamine which causes inflammation. They are suitable for use in adults and children. The drops are available on prescription, and you can also buy them at a pharmacy and other retail outlets, without a prescription.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using sodium cromoglicate eye drops it is important that you speak with a doctor or pharmacist:

  • If you wear soft contact lenses.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only use medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any eye drops.
  1. Wash your hands before you use the drops.
  2. Remove the cap (or the tip of the unit if you are using a single-dose unit).
  3. Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye out to form a pocket.
  4. Hold the bottle (or single-dose unit) upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
  5. Press the container gently to release one drop into your eye. Only use a second drop if the first drop missed going into your eye.
  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. This helps to stop the drop from draining away and keeps it in your eye.
  7. Repeat the process in your other eye.
  8. Replace the cap (or if you are using the single-dose unit, throw it away).
  • Before you start using the eye drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about the eye drops and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from using them.
  • Use the drops four times each day into both eyes, or as directed by a doctor. Try to use the drops at regular intervals and try not to miss any doses. If you need to use the drops for longer than two weeks, you should only do so on the recommendation of a doctor or pharmacist.
  • Never 'share' a bottle of eye drops with another person - this can lead to eye infections.
  • Take care not to touch the tip of the dropper with your eye, fingers, or any other surface. This is to prevent the drops from becoming contaminated.
  • When first put in, eye drops can make your eyes water and may sometimes cause blurred vision. If this happens, it should quickly clear. Make sure you can see clearly again before you drive, or use tools or machines.
  • If your symptoms do not start to improve within two days, make an appointment to speak with a doctor.
  • If you are using any other eye drops or ointments, leave 5-10 minutes between using each one.
  • Do not wear soft contact lenses while you are using sodium cromoglicate eye drops unless your doctor has advised you otherwise. This is because bottles of eye drops contain preservatives which can affect soft contact lenses. The single-dose units do not contain a preservative.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with sodium cromoglicate eye drops. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with the drops. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Sodium cromoglicate eye drop side-effects What can I do if I experience this?
Mild eye irritation such as burning or stinging, blurred vision These usually disappear within a few minutes of applying the eye drops. Do not drive or use tools or machines until your vision is clear

Bottles of eye drops contain preservatives which some people can develop an allergic reaction to. If your eye becomes red or inflamed because of using the drops, contact your doctor for advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Bottles of eye drops only keep for four weeks once the bottle has been opened, so do not use the drops if the bottle has been open for longer than this. This will help to prevent the risk of eye infections.
  • Single-dose units should be used as soon as the unit is opened. Do not store or re-use opened units for subsequent doses. This is because the units do not contain any preservative.

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

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

If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of the drops by accident, contact the accident and emergency department of your local hospital for advice.

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

Never 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

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:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
3234 (v25)
Last Checked:
17/03/2015
Next Review:
16/03/2018
The Information Standard - certified member