We’ve talked about several advanced ways to address the symptoms of dry eye disease, from Lipiflow to specialty contact lenses. One treatment option that you may see advertised on television is prescription eye drops, such as Restasis or Xiidra, that may be used for long-term treatment and relief of dry eye symptoms. These drops are FDA approved to treat dry eye disease, and are more than your average over-the-counter lubricating artificial tear. These prescription-only medications are designed to reduce underlying causes of dry eyes in chronic forms of the condition. Read on to learn more about how prescription eye drops are used to treat dry eye disease.
When Are Prescription Dry Eye Drops an Option?
If you are having a conversation about treating dry eye disease with your optometrist for the very first time, the likelihood of them prescribing a medicated eye drop is very low. Instead, they will likely want you to start with lubricating artificial tears and/or lid hygiene routines to reduce dryness symptoms. When these approaches are not effective in addressing symptoms of dryness and irritation, then the option of prescription eye drops is more likely. Because of how these prescriptions work, doctors use these medications to treat chronic, long term sufferers rather than those who are experiencing a sudden, but temporary, increase in dryness symptoms.
How Restasis and Xiidra Work
Restasis and Xiidra are two of the most commonly used prescription eye drops in the fight against dry eye disease. Both of these have provided significant relief to many patients suffering from moderate to severe dry eye disease.
Restasis has been part of dry eye treatment approaches for many years. This medication is part of a drug class known as cyclosporins, and works as an anti-inflammatory. Restasis targets a specific inflammatory aspect in the eye and can improve the eye’s ability to produce natural tears. Due to the complex mechanism of action of this medication, it takes on average 90 days to become fully effective in fighting dry eye related inflammation. The drop can come in multidose or single-use applicators, and is used twice daily in each eye.
Xiidra is a newer medicated eye drop with a slightly different mechanism of action. However, like Restasis, it also targets inflammatory processes in the eye that interfere with normal tear production and cause dry eye symptoms. As Xiidra works on different inflammatory mediators, it may take less time to become fully effective. Like Restasis, Xiidra is taken twice a day in each eye.
Both Restasis and Xiidra have been known to have mild side effects in some cases, typically including mild irritation upon instillation and temporary blurry vision. Beyond these mild side effects, both forms of medication are thought to be safe options in dry eye treatment. The cost of these drops can be significant, oftentimes costing over $500 for a month supply. However, insurance coverage can vary for providers and may cover a significant amount of the cost.
If you have been a long-time sufferer of dry eye disease, ask your optometrist if a prescription option such as Xiidra or Restasis is a possibility for you.