Medications to Treat Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye is a common condition that affects many of us, especially as we grow older. Normally every time we blink, tears are spread across the eye. This helps reduce the risk of eye infections, wash away irritating particles, and keep the surface of the eye clear. However, when the eye does not produce enough tears to lubricate and clean the eye, it can result in eye infections and more serious eye conditions.
Dry eye can occur when tear production or drainage is not functioning properly. There are many conditions that can cause dry eye, but luckily there are treatments available.
Two of the most popular treatments recommended by Kelowna optometrists for dry eye are Restasis and Xiidra; both medications are FDA approved, safe, and highly effective. These treatments are not the same as artificial tears and over the counter lubricants. Artificial tears provide only temporary relief by adding moisture, whereas Restasis and Xiidra are formulated to moisten the eye and, over time, increase production of tears.
Restasis Dry Eye Treatment
RESTASIS and RESTASIS MultiDose® are cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion treatments that help increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears. The only difference between the two products is that Restasis Multidose offers the convenience of a multidose bottle over single use vials.
Restasis is an immunosuppressive medication that can only be obtained with a prescription. It works by reducing inflammation in the tear glands and preventing further damage. Restasis is a common treatment for patients who have a chronic autoimmune disorder that impedes function in the glands that produce tears and saliva. Restasis eye drops are taken twice per day, every day.
Xiidra Dry Eye Treatment
Xiidra is a lifitegrast ophthalmic emulsion treatment that can also only be obtained with a prescription from your doctor. Xiidra is a newer drug that treats dry eye by disrupting and blocking the inflammation responsible for symptoms associated with dry eye disease.
Xiidra works in a similar way to Restasis, in that they both address the immune response. However, Xiidra is a completely different class of drug. This offers patients an alternative medication if Restasis is unsuitable.
Xiidra is a preservative-free solution that is packaged in individual vials. These eye drops are also taken twice a day, every day.
What You Need to Know about Restasis and Xiidra
There are a few important points to consider before taking any medication, such as:
- If you wear contact lenses, do not apply Restasis or Xiidra while wearing the lenses. Remove the lenses before applying the treatment, and wait 15 minutes before inserting the contact lenses.
- If you have an eye infection, you should not use Restasis or XIidra, and as with all medications, it is important to make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients.
- Mild side effects can include a temporary burning sensation, eye redness, discharge, watery eyes, eye pain, foreign body sensation, itching, stinging, and blurred vision.
- As with all treatments, it takes time to heal. And it may take anywhere from several weeks to six months before the benefits of the treatments take effect.
If you find that you are using over the counter tear drops frequently, and symptoms such as dry, gritty or irritated eyes just won’t go away, make an appointment to talk to your trusted Kelowna Optometrist. It may be time to find out if there is a more serious problem that needs to be treated with prescription eye drops.