Compare olopatadine vs. Zyrtec

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.


Pataday (olopatadine)

Prescription only

Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Relieves itchy eyes due to allergies.

Pataday (olopatadine) is an effective treatment for itchy eyes due to allergies, but it doesn't treat eye irritation caused by infections or contact lens wear.

Treats allergy symptoms.

Zyrtec (cetirizine) can help you with some allergy symptoms without making you very drowsy.

3.8/ 5 average rating with 1232 reviewsforZyrtec
  • Starts working in less than 30 minutes.
  • Safe to use in children age 2 or older.
  • Pataday (olopatadine) is available in a once daily formulation.
  • Most people experience little side effects since the medicine works in your eyes and doesn't affect the rest of your body.
  • Safe to be used together with other oral medicines that also treat allergies.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) works to treat sneezing and runny nose, and causes less sedation compared to Benadryl.
  • Works well to also treat hives and itchy skin.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) is available over the counter without a prescription. It comes as a tablet, liquid, and quick-dissolving tablet.
  • It can provide relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) has few drug interactions with other medicines.
  • Most people don't get any side effects from Zyrtec (cetirizine).
  • Available as a prescription only.
  • Pataday (olopatadine) comes in a generic form, but is still relatively expensive compared to its alternatives.
  • Doesn't help relieve itch related to infections or contact lens wear.
  • Good control of hand and eye movements is needed in order to get the medicine into the eyes successfully.
  • Although it works fast, Zyrtec (cetirizine)'s effectiveness wears off for some people over time.
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine) can make you a little more sleepy compared to Allegra or Claritin.
  • Some people find that other more sedating antihistamines, like Benadryl (diphenhydramine), are more effective for them than Zyrtec (cetirizine).
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Eye drops
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
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Side effects
The Pataday (olopatadine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Zyrtec (cetirizine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • For external use only
  • Not to be used with contact lenses
  • Keeping the applicator clean
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Increased side effects in the elderly
    • Age 65 or older
  • Impaired alertness
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • History of liver or kidney conditions
    • History of liver or kidney disease
See more detailed risks and warnings