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Zaditor vs Alaway: Which Eye Drops Are Best for Allergies?

When my allergies are bothering me, they don’t just affect my nose.

My eyes become itchy and dry. Regular eye drops help for a short while, but what’s really needed are antihistamine eye drops.

Zaditor and Alaway both work to limit the allergic reactions that cause red, dry, itchy, burning, or watery eyes.

Which brand is best? Let’s compare and see if Zaditor or Alaway is a better choice.

Quick Pick: Alaway is equally effective and priced better.


Antihistamine Eye Drops vs Regular Drops

There are countless eye drops out there – artificial tears, redness relief, dry eye drops, lubricating eye drops, and more.

Do your eyes regularly become irritated without being exposed to dust, smoke, or foreign objects? Chances are you’re affected by eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis.

Regular eye drops will treat the symptoms, but not get to the root of the problem.

Stopping the allergic reaction requires an antihistamine or mast cell stabilizer.

Some drops such as Naphcon A and Opcon-A have an antihistamine. In my experience, they are pretty effective for redness and itchiness, but only for 4-6 hours.

Zaditor and Alaway have ketotifen fumarate which is both an antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer.

Antihistamines take effect quickly. Mast cell stabilizers take longer to work, but they last longer. The combination of the two is both fast acting and long lasting.

Ketotifen fumarate solutions used to only be available by prescription, but now you can get them over the counter (OTC).

Zaditor and Alaway are simply more effective at treating the source of the problem than other OTC eye drops.

Prescription vs Non-Prescription Allergy Eye Drops

Prescription-only eye drops are costly.

Pataday and Pazeo are only available as brand-name, and cost hundreds of dollars. Allergy eye drops are not typically covered by insurance.

Patanol is another brand-name option with a high price tag. It’s now available as a generic, known as Olopatadine. The price of the generic is much lower: anywhere from $20-50 for a 30 day supply, depending on the pharmacy. As with the other prescription drops, it’s not commonly covered by insurance.

Even generic prescription eye drops cost at least 2-5x what Zaditor or Alaway do.

Zaditor was originally patented by Novartis and sold as a prescription drug. It was later approved by the FDA to be sold over the counter under the Systane line of the Alcon brand.

More recently, the patent for Zaditor expired. Bausch and Lomb then started offering Alaway, which has an identical formulation.

Both Zaditor & Alaway are prescription-strength eye drops, but at a more reasonable cost.

Differences Between Zaditor and Alaway

As mentioned before, Zaditor and Alaway contain the same active ingredient: Ketotifen 0.025%. The same inactive ingredients are used as well.

Alaway is like a generic form for Zaditor, only with the trusted Bausch & Lomb name.

The difference is in the value.

Zaditor is available in .17 ounce / 5 mL bottles which give you a 30-day supply.

Alaway comes in .34 ounce / 10 mL bottles. Each bottle is good for a 60-day supply.

Not only that, but if you buy Alaway in a 2-pack, you’ll usually save a few bucks more over Zaditor.

Looking at Amazon’s pricing on 2-packs, here’s how the cost works out:


So, you’re getting the identical formula with Alaway, but at less than half the cost.

How to Use Zaditor & Alaway

Directions are the same for both brands of eye drops.

One drop per eye should be used twice per day, every 8-12 hours.

One drop when you wake up and another before bed is a good routine.

If you wear contact lenses, they should be taken out before you apply the drops. Once you’ve waited 10 minutes, you can put your contacts back in.

If you have eye pain, vision changes, sensitivity to light, or if itchiness lasts more than 72 hours you should call your doctor.

Are Zaditor and Alaway Safe for Kids?

For kids ages 3+, both products are safe to use.

Under 3, you should consult your pediatrician.

Conveniently, there are no special dosing requirements for kids. Just as with adults, the recommended dose is 1 drop at a time, per eye. It should be given no more than twice per day, every 8-12 hours.

Tips to Make Eye Drops Easy On Kids

As a parent, at first I found it challenging to apply eye drops to my kids.

There are a number of things you can do to put your child’s mind at ease.

To start, I think it’s good to demonstrate what the eye dropper does. You’ll need to “waste” a few drops, but you probably won’t lose as many as you would with a squirmy, upset kid.

Try demonstrating the eye dropper with these steps:

  • Put a drop into your own hand
  • Let your child put a drop into your hand
  • Put a drop into your child’s hand

I also like to explain that they’ll be only getting one drop in each eye. I think it’s easier to handle if they know it will be quick.

Next, have your child lie down flat on the floor, looking straight up. If you have a second person to help, have them gently hold the sides of the child’s face so they don’t turn away.

With practice, you may be able to place a drop in each eye in quick succession.

Ideally, the eyes will be open when the drop is placed. It’s not always so easy, though.

If your child closes their eyes once the dropper is near, there’s still a way.

Place the drops within the inner corner of each eye. The drops will make little puddles in the corners. Once your child opens their eyes, the drops should spread into their eyes.


Zaditor is a great product that continues to be popular. Ophthalmologists have recommended it for years. It carries more name recognition than Alaway.

Alaway is simply a better value.

I can get twice the number of Alaway drops for less money than Zaditor – despite the formula being the same.

To help relieve my own eye allergies, I’ve picked Alaway. It’s just as good as Zaditor, but even more affordable. Go for the twin pack shown below for the best value.