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The Science Behind Dry Eye Medications

The Science Behind Dry Eye Medications

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from dry eye syndrome, you may already be somewhat familiar with the medications sometimes prescribed for the condition. But what you may not know is how they work.

Although over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops are available, you’ll likely need a prescription for something stronger if your dry eyes are more than mildly bothersome. Dr. Randa Garrana of Advanced Lasik explains more about what these medications are, and explores the science that makes them effective.

Symptoms of dry eye

Sometimes, it may be normal to have drier eyes than usual; two common examples of this are experiencing eye strain after working on a computer screen all day, or having eye irritation after a day of contact lens wear. While these conditions can make your eyes feel mildly dry and gritty, the irritation usually resolves itself if you take a break, use some OTC eye drops, or remove your contacts.

For people with the syndrome we call dry eye, however, the problem is chronic. Symptoms common to dry eye may affect one or both eyes. They include:

Although you may feel inclined to think that dry eye is only an annoyance and not a big deal, it’s important to know that leaving it untreated can lead to worsening eye problems, including scratches on your cornea.

The medications for dry eye

If you make an appointment about possible dry eye, Dr. Garrana begins with a dilated eye exam. Then, she checks to see how many tears your eyes produce, notes how long they take to dry, and evaluates the structure of your eyelids.

If she confirms that you have dry eye syndrome, she may start by prescribing either cyclosporine (Restasis®) or lifitegrast (Xiidra®). These medications are eye drops that you administer yourself each day. 

Increased tear production

Both these eye drop medications are prescribed for those who have a type of inflammation of their eyes that causes them to produce fewer tears. Both are approved to treat chronic dry eye by easing inflammation and increasing your eyes' natural ability to make tears. This helps to moisten your eyes and reduce symptoms of chronic dry eye. 

Strong anti-inflammatory effects

A new eye drop option called loteprednol (Eysuvis®) was recently approved by the FDA. As an ocular corticosteroid, this medication is a unique dry eye treatment. If you’ve ever taken corticosteroids for other reasons (i.e., to treat a breathing disorder like asthma), you know that this class of drug has very powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

Loteprednol can be very helpful during a severe dry eye symptom flare, but because the medication is so powerful, you’ll be advised to use the drops for only two weeks at a time.

You don’t have to live with dry eye

If you’re struggling with persistently dry, itchy, or gritty eyes, now’s a good time to schedule a consultation with Dr. Randa Garrana. Call or click online to book an appointment at your nearest Advanced Lasik office today — we have one office in Manhattan, New York, one in Long Beach, California, and another in Pasadena, California. 

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