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Opatanol

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Opatanol (olopatadine) is an antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer used to alleviate the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. This condition occurs when the immune system overreacts to the presence of allergens, producing symptoms of:

  • Pink or red eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Tenderness or pain around the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity

Note that allergic conjunctivitis is distinct from viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, all of which may be called "pink eye." In the latter two, Opatanol will not help the condition heal, though it may provide some relief from symptoms; in many cases this can be worse, as the masked symptoms prevent the patient from seeking help earlier. If in doubt as to the cause of the conjunctivitis, seek advice from a doctor.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be either seasonal, as is the case with allergies to pollen, or perennial, as is the case with most other allergens. Patients who are aware that they're allergic to certain substances can usually tell when the conjunctivitis is allergic; for example, if allergic to horses, it won't be a big surprise when conjunctivitis develops after visiting a barn.

Opatanol can be used in patients age three and up; dosage and duration of treatment is the same in all ages. Safety regarding use in patients under age three is unclear.

Opatanol Treatment

Opatanol is available in only one strength, 0.1%. Similar products but in different strengths---0.7% and 0.2%---are sold under different names.

Each vial of Opatanol includes a dropper to administer the eye drops. Instructions for use are:

  • Wash and dry hands before handling the medication.
  • Do not allow the dropper to touch the eyes or other surfaces.
  • Tilt the head back and pull down the lower eyelid, forming a pocket.
  • Hold the dropper near the eye and squeeze it to release a single drop.
  • Close the eye and tilt the head downward.
  • Apply gentle pressure to the tear duct with a finger.
  • Hold the eye closed with the finger pressing on the tear duct for 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Repeat in the other eye if needed.

In the majority of cases treatment is simple and straightforward:

  • Apply one drop in each affected eye twice per day.
  • At least 6 hours should pass between treatments.

Occasionally a doctor will advise a different dosage, such as:

  • Apply two drops in each affected eye twice per day; or
  • Apply one drop in each affected eye once per day.

Contact lenses must be removed prior to treatment, and should be left out for at least 10 minutes after treatment. Ideally contact lenses will not be worn at all for the duration of allergic conjunctivitis, but in practice this is not possible for many patients.

Most patients will see the condition improve rapidly, beginning with the first dose, though it may take several dose before maximum benefit is achieved. Treatment may continue for as long as needed.

Other Allergen Solutions

Patients who suffer from frequent allergic conjunctivitis may want to try making their home a little less likely to harbor them. In addition to the obvious---keeping the house clean---minimizing carpets and other soft furnishings can help a great deal. Investing in bed linens that minimize allergens can also help in many instances.

Other tips include:

  • Stay indoors if possible during pollen season.
  • Address mold or mildew as soon as it's noticed. Venting the bathroom and other high-moisture areas can help prevent it from establishing in the first place.
  • If cockroaches or other bugs are present, eliminate them if possible. Even cutting down can make a difference. Cockroaches in particular can trigger all kinds of allergies.
  • Dust often to keep dust to a minimum.
  • If allergic conjunctivitis occurs, try to avoid rubbing at the eyes. It's very tempting to do when they itch, but it can considerably worsen the condition.
  • Cold compresses can help alleviate swelling, itching, and other symptoms of inflammation.
  • If Opatanol or other eye treatments are unavailable, rinsing the eye with clean water may help remove allergens.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of many patients to keep their living environment clean and free of allergens, allergic conjunctivitis will occur now and then regardless. For these patients, Opatanol will provide much-needed relief.

Opatanol

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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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