If you have dry eyes, your optometrist may recommend prescription eye drops to help relieve your symptoms. A common prescription eye drop brand is Restasis, but how does it help with dry eyes?
Continue reading to learn more about dry eye disease and eye drops, including how Restasis can help you find relief from dry eyes.
What Is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry eye disease is a chronic condition where your tears cannot effectively lubricate your eyes. You may experience several uncomfortable symptoms due to this condition, such as blurry vision, redness, or a burning sensation in your eyes. These symptoms typically arise due to problems with your tear film.
Your tear film helps keep your eye hydrated and protected, but problems can arise, leading to dry eye symptoms.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Problems with your tear film can lead to several irritating symptoms, including:
- A stinging, burning or scratching sensation
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Eye fatigue
- Eye redness
- Foreign body sensation
- Light sensitivity
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Watery eyes
If you experience dry eye symptoms, your eye doctor can help determine the underlying cause of your discomfort and recommend a treatment plan for relief.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes occur due to complications with the layers of your tear film (mucus, water, and oil). These 3 layers have distinct roles in keeping your eye’s surface protected and clean:
- The mucus layer helps spread tears evenly across the eye.
- The water layer keeps the eye hydrated & washes away any debris.
- The oil layer helps seal the tear film, preventing tears from evaporating.
Disruption in the tear film can lead to dry eye disease, such as issues with the glands responsible for producing your tears (the lacrimal and meibomian glands). These glands can become blocked or damaged, causing problems with the creation and quality of your tears.
Other factors contributing to dry eyes include:
- Certain medical conditions
- Certain medications
- Desensitized corneal nerves
- Eye allergies
- Eyelid problems
- Infrequent blinking
- Meibomian gland dysfunction
- Preservatives in eye drops
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Wind, smoke, or dry air
Who Is At-Risk of Dry Eyes?
While anyone can develop dry eyes, some people are more at risk. The following factors can increase your chances of developing dry eye disease:
- A diet low in vitamin A & omega-3 fatty acids
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, birth control, or menopause
Eye Drops for Dry Eyes
Many eye doctors recommend eye drops to help relieve dry eye disease symptoms. Whether with a prescription or over-the-counter option, these eye drops can help improve your quality of life. Your optometrist will recommend the best eye drops for your unique needs.
Artificial tears are another name for over-the-counter eye drops. Made to simulate real tears, they provide temporary moisture, helping relieve dry eye symptoms. Your eye doctor may recommend them to you, or you can buy them from most pharmacies.
Depending on the type, you can generally use artificial tears as many times as you want throughout the day.
Many eye drops have preservatives to last longer and fight off bacteria. However, the ingredients in these preservatives can worsen dry eye symptoms. You can use preservatives-free artificial tears as much as you like.
Artificial tears contain several ingredients, including:
- Electrolytes to heal the eye’s surface
- Guar gum to prevent tears from drying
- Lubricants to moisten the eyes
- Preservatives (if added) to prevent bacteria growth
Prescription Eye Drops
Prescription eye drops do more than provide moisture—they help address the cause of your dry eyes. You can only get these eye drops from your optometrist when you have a prescription. Different prescription eye drops are available, depending on your dry eye needs.
A common prescription eye drop is cyclosporine, also known as Restasis.
How Do Restasis Eye Drops Treat Dry Eyes?
Restasis is a brand of eye drops used to treat chronic dry eyes, specifically when you struggle to produce tears. This medication contains cyclosporine, which helps improve the eye’s natural ability to create tears. You may receive Restasis eye drops in single or multi-use vials.
Restasis works by relieving inflammation in your eyes and tear ducts. Treating inflammation helps improve your eye’s ability to produce tears to moisten the eyes. When you increase tear production, it reduces dry eye symptoms.
You typically use these eye drops twice a day, around 12 hours apart. While Restasis is an effective treatment for dry eyes, it does have potential side effects, including:
- Eye discomfort
- Eye redness
- Itchy eyes
- Temporary blurred vision
Your optometrist can determine whether or not these eye drops are right for your needs and explain how to properly use them. Always listen to your eye doctor’s instructions for prescription medications.
Find the Best Dry Eye Treatment for Your Needs
While dry eyes can be irritating and uncomfortable, relief is within reach. Your eye doctor can determine the underlying cause of your condition before recommending a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. Whether with Restasis or another treatment option, you can manage dry eyes. Contact your optometrist if you have dry eye symptoms.