Azelastine drops relieve eye itching and redness 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.
When first put in, eye drops can cause blurred vision. Wait until this clears before you drive and before you use tools or machines.
About azelastine eye drops
|Type of medicine||Antihistamine eye drops|
|Used for||To relieve the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis|
|Available as||Eye drops|
Allergic conjunctivitis causes red, watery, itchy eyes. It is caused by exposure to irritants such as plant pollens, pet fur, cosmetics or house dust mite. 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 is an antihistamine; it helps relieve allergic itchiness by blocking the release of a chemical called histamine, which is produced by the body as part of an allergic reaction.
Before using azelastine eye drops
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 wear soft contact lenses.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. (Although azelastine is not known to be harmful to babies, it is still important that you tell your doctor if you are expecting or breastfeeding a baby.)
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to an antihistamine, or to any other eye drops.
How to use azelastine eye drops
- Wash your hands before you use the drops.
- Remove the cap.
- Tilt your head back a little, and then pull the lower lid of your eye out to form a pocket between your eye and the lower eyelid.
- Hold the bottle upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
- Apply sufficient pressure to the bottle to release one drop into your eye. Only use a second drop if the first drop missed going into your eye.
- 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.
- Repeat the process in your other eye.
- Replace the cap.
Getting the most from your treatment
- 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 drops, and it will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from using them.
- Azelastine eye drops should usually be used twice a day (in the morning and the evening). If your symptoms are particularly severe, your doctor may suggest you use them up to four times a day.
- When you first put the drop into your eye, it may cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear, but make sure you can see clearly again before you drive and before you use machines or tools.
- Take care not to touch your eye, fingers, or any other surface with the dropper of the bottle. This could infect the liquid left in the bottle.
- If you are using any other eye drops, leave 5-10 minutes between using the other eye drops. This is to prevent more liquid going into your eye than it can handle. Otherwise the drops will overflow from your eye and not have the intended effect.
- Your doctor will tell you how long to use the drops for. You should not use the drops for a period of more than six consecutive weeks.
- If your symptoms do not improve within two days, or if they become worse, make another appointment to see a doctor.
- Do not wear soft contact lenses while you are using the eye drops, unless your doctor has advised you otherwise. This is because lenses will irritate your eyes, and also because there is a preservative in the drops which can affect soft contact lenses.
Can azelastine eye drops cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, eye drops can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the most common one associated with azelastine eye drops. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with azelastine is from the manufacturer's printed information supplied with the drops. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer's information leaflet in the reference section below. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common azelastine side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Mild eye irritation (such as stinging)||This usually disappears within a few minutes of using the eye drops|
Occasionally people can be allergic to eye drops, particularly when the eye drops contain a preservative. If you notice a rash around your eyes, or any swelling or increased itching, stop using the drops and contact a doctor for advice. If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the eye drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store azelastine eye drops
- 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 - do not use the drops if the bottle has been open for longer than this. This helps to prevent the risk of eye infections.
Important information about all medicines
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 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.
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 and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Optilast® 0.5 mg/ml Eye Drops; Mylan Products Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated July 2018.
British National Formulary, 78th Edition (Sep 2019); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.