Restasis is One Treatment for Dry Eyes but has Limitations Due to Side Effects and Cost
Restasis Ophthalmic Emulsion (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion 0.05%) by Allergan Pharmaceuticals is a prescription eye drop used for the treatment of chronic dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca). Restasis is the only prescription eye drop medicine that is prescribed for long-term use to increase the eye’s ability to produce tears for patients whose tear production is suppressed due to ocular inflammation.
Dry eye syndrome is an ongoing condition and depending on its cause, it may not be curable but it can definitely be managed. There are different causes of dry eye. One cause in particular is ocular inflammation that suppresses the production of tears.
How Restasis Works
Patients with chronic dry eye have more inflammatory T-cells that produce by-products, which decrease the nerve signals to the lacrimal gland resulting in dryness. Restasis inhibits the activation of T-cells, which results in increased tear production by the lacrimal gland. Restasis does not improve tear flow in patients on anti-inflammatory eye drops or those with punctal plugs.
Recommended Dosage of Restasis
The recommended dosage of Restasis is one drop twice a day (1 drop in the morning and another drop in the evening approximately 12 hours apart). The medication comes in a package of 30 (thirty) single use vials. Some patients may begin to experience the benefit of increased tear production in as early as one month, but for others, it may take a few months longer since no two people react to the medication exactly the same. It is essential that Restasis be used consistently, twice a day, every day to achieve maximum effectiveness. Since there currently is no cure for chronic dry eye, Restasis is a long-term treatment and its benefits will cease if the product is discontinued.
Side Effects of Restasis
The most common side effect following the use of Restasis is ocular burning (17% of patients). Other possible side effects (1-5% of patients) of Restasis include conjunctival redness, stinging, pain, foreign body sensation, itching and blurred vision. The use is contradicted with patients who have an active eye infection or for those who have a known or suspected hypersensitivity to any one of its ingredients. The safety and efficacy has not been established for patients under the age of sixteen. There are also no well controlled or adequate studies for Restasis in pregnant women and caution should be exercised in nursing mothers. Restasis should not be used while wearing contact lenses.
Cost of Restasis
Most patients with commercial health insurance have plans that cover most of the cost of RESTASIS® prescriptions. Most patient co-pays for a RESTASIS® prescription ranges from $20 to $50 for a monthly supply (2 trays).
Alternative Dry Eye Treatments
There are many solutions to improving chronic dry eye syndrome including therapy with Lotemax, Omega 3’s, punctal occlusion, artificial tears and doxycycline to name a few. Restasis is one medical treatment that may be prescribed by your eye care doctor at Master Eye Associates.