As we’ve already covered, there are many different treatment options for dry eye disease, ranging from artificial tears to punctal plugs. One very important treatment approach for moderate to severe dry eye disease is prescriptions eye drops, including long-term options like Xiidra and Restasis, or short-term approaches such as topical steroid eye drops. The approach of medicated eye drops aims to fight chronic inflammation that can contribute to and worsen the symptoms of dry eye disease. Unlike classic over-the-counter artificial tears, these eye drops require a prescription from your eye doctor. Continue reading to learn more about these treatment options for dry eyes and whether they may be the right choice for you.
When is it Time to Try Prescription Eye Drops for Dry Eyes?
Medicated eye drops such as Restasis, Xiidra, or steroids are rarely the first treatment course in dry eye disease. Instead, they become an option when the more traditional approaches, like lubricating artificial tears and lid hygiene, have not provided significant relief of symptoms. Because these treatment approaches are meant to treat chronic dry eye disease, they will not be used to address seasonal or temporary symptoms of dryness. They can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as punctal plugs. Other eye drops, including artificial tears or medicated drops for the treatment of glaucoma, can be used with these dry eye medications, as long as an adequate amount of time (about 15 minutes) is allowed in between drop instillation to prevent washing out medications.
Restasis and Xiidra: How They Work
Prescription eye drops used to treat dry eyes, such as Restasis and Xiidra, both work to fight inflammatory causes of dry eye symptoms. These medications are FDA approved approaches for the treatment of ocular dryness, and have proven to be effective for many patients. Restasis was developed many years ago and has continued to be an effective dry eye treatment. Its active ingredient is a cyclosporine, which targets highly specific inflammatory cells in the eye that impede the eye’s ability to make natural tears. It takes about 90 days for the medication to effectively target and destroy these inflammatory cells and become fully effective in the treatment of dry eye symptoms. Xiidra, like Restasis, works on different inflammatory mediators that interfere with normal tear production. However, because it has a slightly different mechanism of action, it may take less time to effectively decrease dry eye symptoms.
Topical Steroids and Dry Eye Disease
Corticosteroid eye drops work similarly to Restasis and Xiidra by addressing the chronic inflammation that worsens the symptoms of dry eye diseases. Many people who are treated with topical steroids notice a drastic improvement of symptoms very quickly after treatment is initiated. This treatment method also requires a prescription from your doctor, and may require close follow-up care. Because topical steroids have the potential to cause an increase in intraocular pressure along with other potential ocular side effect, you will be required to follow a strict eye drop schedule and schedule follow-up appointments to ensure treatment is going according to plan.