Updated on  February 20, 2024
6 min read

What Are Ketotifen Eye Drops and How Do They Work?

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Key Takeaways

  • Ketotifen fumarate ophthalmic solution is an eye medication for allergic conjunctivitis and other allergies.
  • Ketotifen may have additional uses that aren’t described in this article.
  • Only take ketotifen as prescribed or recommended by your healthcare provider, and remember to disclose your full medical history to prevent potential drug interactions.
  • This article is just a summary and doesn’t cover all possible information about ketotifen.
  • If you have any questions about this medication, it’s best to talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider.

What is Ketotifen?

Ketotifen is an antihistamine that prevents allergic reactions and treats allergic symptoms. It’s commonly paired with fumaric acid to form Ketotifen fumarate. It’s available in various forms, including topical eye drops (Ophthalmic solution) and oral tablets.

Ophthalmic Solution

Ketotifen eye drops are available over the counter (OTC) or in prescription form. The solution is applied directly into the eyes to prevent itching, swelling, and redness caused by an allergic reaction.

Oral Tablets

This medication is only available through a prescription from a healthcare professional. It reduces the severity, frequency, and duration of asthma attacks and symptoms in children.

Besides the conditions mentioned above, it may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your pharmacist or health care professional for more information.

How Does Ketotifen Work?

Ketotifen works as a selective antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer. It delivers its therapeutic effect in various ways:

  • Antihistamine. As an H1 histamine receptor antagonist, ketotifen blocks a natural substance (histamine) that helps your body remove allergens by sneezing, tearing up, and itching.
  • Mast cell stabilizer. It reduces the release of natural substances in your body that cause an allergic reaction.

Applying Ketotifen Fumarate Ophthalmic Solution

As an ophthalmic solution, ketotifen fumarate is used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. It’s sold under many common brand names, including:

  • Zaditor
  • Zyrtec Itchy Eye
  • Eye Itch Relief
  • Itchy Eye
  • Claritin Eye
  • Alaway
  • Children’s Alaway

How to Use Ketotifen Fumarate Eye Drops

The recommended dose is one drop in the affected eye every 8 to 12 hours. Don’t use more or less of the medication than your doctor prescribes.

Follow these steps when applying ketotifen fumarate eye drops:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  2. Make sure the dropper tip isn’t chipped or cracked.
  3. Avoid touching the dropper tip to your eye or any other surface.
  4. Tilt your head back and pull down your lower eyelid with your index finger.
  5. Using your other hand, hold the dropper close to your eye without touching it.
  6. Look up and gently squeeze the dropper so one drop falls into your eye, then remove your index finger.
  7. Close your eye for 2 to 3 minutes and tilt your head down.
  8. Apply gentle pressure to your tear duct with a finger.
  9. Use a tissue to wipe away any excess liquid from your face.
  10. If using more than one drop in the same eye, wait 5 minutes to apply the next dose.
  11. Replace the dropper in the bottle and tighten the cap without rinsing or wiping the tip.
  12. Wash your hands again to remove any traces of the medicine.

Your vision may become temporarily blurred after taking this medication. For this reason, don’t attempt to drive or perform any activity that requires clear vision immediately after taking it.

Remember to follow the instructions on the prescription label and ask your healthcare provider any questions.

Can Ketotifen Fumarate Eye Drops Be Used with Contact Lenses?

If you wear soft contact lenses, remove them before applying ketotifen fumarate eye drops. Wait 10 minutes after instilling the drops to insert your contact lenses.

Don’t wear contact lenses if your eyes are red due to irritation. This medication should not be used to treat contact lens wear.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions of Ketotifen Fumarate

Using ketotifen fumarate eye drops may cause side effects, depending on how your body responds.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects include:5

  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Itching
  • Eyelid problems
  • Eyelid discharge

Other side effects can also occur when taking ketotifen fumarate. Call your doctor for medical advice if you experience side effects not listed above.

Less Common Side Effects

Serious allergic reactions to ketotifen aren’t common but can still lead to these symptoms:

  • Skin rash or hives
  • Swelling of the face, throat, or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe dizziness

These are signs of a life-threatening medical condition called anaphylaxis. If you experience any serious symptoms above, Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Precautions to Follow When Using Ketotifen

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor your medical history. Specific things to point out include:

  • If you’re allergic to ketotifen or other types of medication, foods, preservatives, or dyes
  • If you wear contact lenses
  • If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • If you’re breastfeeding

Potential Drug Interactions

Drug interactions with ketotifen don’t always occur. However, you shouldn’t use other eye ointments or medications without your doctor’s approval. This also applies to taking alcohol, illicit drugs, or smoking.

Give your healthcare provider a complete list of all other medicines you take. They will advise you on possible drug interactions you should expect. This includes dietary supplements, herbs, and non-prescription drugs.

If your doctor says it’s okay to use another eye medication simultaneously with ketotifen, wait at least 5 minutes between dosages.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Ketotifen Fumarate

What Should I Do if I Miss a Dose?

Apply the missed dose soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the time when you would take your next dose, just skip the missed dose.

Continue your normal dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for the missed one.

Where Should I Store This Medication?

Ketotifen should be kept in the container it came in. Ensure that it’s tightly closed and out of reach of children.

Store it at room temperature, away from light, heat, and humidity. If unused or expired, dispose of it properly.

What Do I Do in Case of an Overdose?

Ketotifen may be harmful if swallowed. If someone is experiencing serious symptoms such as trouble breathing, call 911.

Otherwise, call your poison control center immediately. U.S. residents should contact their local poison control center at 1-800-222-122. Residents of Canada should call a provincial poison control center.

Is It Okay to Share My Ketotifen Fumarate Medication With Other People?

Don’t let anyone else use medication a doctor prescribed for you, even if you’re taking the same medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about prescription refills.

What Else Can I Do to Relieve Eye Allergies?

Other solutions include avoiding allergens such as pollen and animal hair. You can also use cold compresses and lubricating eye drops to reduce eye irritation.

Updated on  February 20, 2024
6 sources cited
Updated on  February 20, 2024
  1. Ketotifen Ophthalmic.” National Library of Medicine, 2023.

  2. Abelson et al. “Efficacy of Ketotifen Fumarate 0.025% Ophthalmic Solution Compared With Placebo in the Conjunctival Allergen Challenge Model.” JAMA Ophthalmology, 2003.

  3. Kidd et al. “Efficacy and safety of ketotifen eye drops in the treatment of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.” British Journal of Ophthalmology, 2003.

  4. Abidin et al. “Therapeutic Efficacy of Topical Olopatadine 0.1% Versus Ketotifen Fumarate in Allergic Conjunctivitis.” Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal, 2022.

  5. Jamp-Ketotifen.” Jamp Pharma Corporation, 2019.

  6. Dou, X.Y., and Zhang, W. “Topical ketotifen treatment for allergic conjunctivitis: a systematic review and Meta-analysis.” International Journal of Ophthalmology, 2023.

The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.