Not sure about dry eye medication? There are a number of pharmaceutical products on the market to help with severe dry eyes.
The symptoms targeted by dry eye medications appear fairly limited.
Nearly all medications address one of two things: an over active immune system or inflammation.
What about Eye Drops?
Medicated drops fall into three categories:
- over- the- counter drops including artificial tears where no prescription is required;
- steroid eye drops that require prescriptions;
- immunosuppressant medications that also require prescriptions from a doctor or specialist.
Restasis is a medicated eye drop approved by the FDA for dry eye relief. There is some evidence that Restasis is beneficial for dry eye patients, however the results are very mixed to say the least.
Reports of side effects including burning and stinging in the eyes are common; the very sensation it should be alleviating. Ouch!
Marketed heavily as the ‘number one solution’ for dry eye, to date, it is the only FDA approved product on the market. This gives you an indication as to why it is used extensively by physicians.
How does Restasis stack up as a dry eye medication?
The active ingredient in Restasis is Cyclosporine, an immunosuppressive agent used to calm the body’s inflammatory response.
As we know, inflammation is a key contributor to dry eye syndrome.
Cyclosporine is not new and has been used for dry eye for quite some years, even in veterinary practices for dogs with dry eyes. One of its original uses was for heart transplant patients to help allow the immune system to accept the new organ.
From a cost point of view, Restasis is expensive and can be as much as $115 US a month. Six weeks to three months is the typical time frame to assess whether you are responding to the treatment.
This is the key: we are all a little different and some respond to these style of treatments better than others. For many it seems the side effects, typically seen in the first few weeks are just too difficult to handle day- to- day.
FDA approval for dry eye medications is a difficult task as in many cases the poor trial results for tested products do not warrant the large financial investment to bring these new medications to market.
In other words, the return on investment is low.
With Restasis being the only FDA approved medication, the upshot is that, due to the ever increasing numbers of people with inflammatory-related dry eyes it will continue to be a good seller.
It is up to the individual to weigh up the benefit for them personally, however there are less expensive treatments that may be worthwhile considering before Restasis.
Other anti-inflammatory, steroid drop medications include Lotemax, and Fluorometholone (FML). With an emphasis on cooling the inflammation associated with dry eyes, these are commonly taken in short courses as they are strong corticosteroids only used under a doctors supervision.
Reducing inflammation and calming the immune response are the targets for most all dry eye medications on the market today. Some patients will see benefit, while others will not or the results will be subtle. Unfortunately some trial and error is required with all dry eye medications.
Dry eye syndrome has a tendency to wax and wane with the natural flow of your life, for example, stress at work, the changing seasons and nutritional and hormonal factors.
With this in mind, it makes sense to do as much as you can to reduce inflammation and your auto immune response internally while using medications or drops cautiously to attempt to alleviate the symptoms short term.