Sodium cromoglicate eye drops

  • These drops are used to treat red, watery, itchy eyes caused by allergies such as hay fever.
  • Use one drop four times a day in both eyes.
  • When first put in, eye drops may cause blurred vision. Wait until this clears before you drive.
Type of medicineAnti-inflammatory eye drops
Used forRelieving the eye symptoms of allergies including hay fever
Also calledCatacrom®, Cromolux®, Galpharm Hayfever®, Hay-Crom®, Opticrom®, Optrex Allergy®, Pollenase Allergy®, Vividrin®
Available asEye drops and single-use eye drops

Allergic conjunctivitis causes red, watery, itchy eyes. The common cause is an allergy to pollen in the hay fever season. Other causes are less common such as allergies to house dust mite, cosmetics, and problems with contact lenses. Sodium cromoglicate eye drops relieve the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis by reducing the amount of a chemical called histamine being released. They are available on prescription, or you can buy them at pharmacies 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 your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you wear soft contact lenses.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any eye drops.
  • First wash your hands.
  • Remove the cap (or the tip of the unit if you are using a single-use unit).
  • Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye downwards to form a pocket.
  • Hold the bottle (or single-use unit) upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
  • Apply enough pressure to release one drop 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 (or if you are using the single-use unit, throw it away).
  • Before using these eye drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet. The leaflet will give you more information about sodium cromoglicate, and a full list of possible side-effects from using the drops.
  • Use the drops four times each day into both eyes, or as directed by your doctor. Try to use the drops at regular intervals and try not to miss any doses. If you need to use these drops for more than three months, you should consult your doctor for further advice.
  • Take care not to touch your eye, fingers, or any other surface with the dropper of the bottle. This could contaminate the drops left in the bottle.
  • When first put in, these eye drops may cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear, but make sure you can see properly before you drive, use machines or do any other jobs which would be dangerous if you were unable to see clearly.
  • If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check 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 sodium cromoglicate eye drops unless your doctor has advised you otherwise. This is because there is a preservative in bottles of eye drops which may affect soft contact lenses. The single-use units are preservative-free.

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 sodium cromoglicate eye drop side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Mild eye irritation such as burning or stinging, blurred visionThese 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 throw away the bottle after this time, even if there is some solution left. Never keep opened bottles of eye drops to use later. This will help prevent the risk of eye infections.
  • Single-use units should be used immediately 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.
  • Make sure that the person prescribing this medicine knows about any other medicines that you are using. This includes medicines you buy and herbal and homeopathic medicines.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 (v24)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
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