Medications (restasis/xiidra) for dry eye

Medications are an additional treatment option for patients suffering from dry eye.

Medications (restasis/xiidra) for dry eye in Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

Medications remain an effective tool for treating dry eye. Two of the biggest brand names in that group are Restasis and Xiidra. What are each of these medications best at, and what other important information about them is there to know? Keep reading to find out.

Restasis vs. Xiidra: What is the Difference?

Both Restasis and Xiidra are eye drop medications meant to be used daily to keep dry eyes lubricated.

Restasis, manufactured by Allergan and also known by its generic name, cyclosporine, was approved by the FDA in 1983. It works by regulating the inflammatory processes in the eyes which can impact tear production and lead to dry eye.

It is recommended to use Restasis twice daily, or every 12 hours. It can take up to 3 months to experience relief from symptoms with Restasis, and in some cases it can take as long as 6 months.

Xiidra, also known by its generic name, lifitegrast, is manufactured by Shire and was approved by the FDA in 2016. It is classified as a different type of medication known as lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) antagonists. While it is not known exactly how it works, it is believed to decrease inflammation and increase tear production through the blocking of a protein called LFA-1 from interacting with another protein in the eyes called ICAM-1.

Xiidra is also to be used twice daily (12 hours apart), and has been found to help relieve dry eye symptoms within two weeks. However, it can take as many as six to 12 weeks for some patients to experience complete relief from symptoms.

Restasis vs. Xiidra: What is the Difference?
Uses for Restasis and Xiidra

Uses for Restasis and Xiidra

Both Restasis and Xiidra are used as long-term treatments for dry eye through the reduction of inflammation on the surface of the eyes and increasing tear production. Along with dryness, both of these medications can relieve other dry eye symptoms, including redness, blurry vision, itchiness, and eye fatigue.

Uses for Restasis and Xiidra

Restasis and Xiidra: Which is More Effective?

At present, there are no clinical trials which directly compare the effectiveness of Restasis against Xiidra. However, clinical trials have found both of these effective when compared to placebo.

Your doctor will be best able to recommend which medication might work best for you.

Restasis is typically covered by insurance, while Xiidra is not, so that might also factor into decisions on which to take.

Side Effects

As with all medications, there are both common and rare side effects for both Restasis and Xiidra.

Common side effects of Restasis include redness and irritation of the eyes, along with blurry vision.

Common side effects of Xiidra include redness and irritation of the eyes, eye discharge, blurry vision, and headaches. It can also lead to an unusual taste in the mouth, referred to as dysgeusia.

Serious side effects of both include hypersensitivity reactions, including itching, rash, swelling, and shortness of breath.

Restasis vs. Xiidra: What is the Difference?
Uses for Restasis and Xiidra

Drudge Interactions of Restasis and Xiidra

There have not been significant drug interactions reported with either Restasis or Xiidra.Generally speaking, other medical eye drops should be avoided while using either Restasis or Xiidra, unless directed by your healthcare provider. If you are considering taking either of these medications, be sure to tell your doctor about other medications you are taking, including prescriptions, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Common Questions

There are several different ways you can clean your eyelids for dry eyes, one method is to use OcuSoft lid scrubs (or you can use any other brand lid scrubs). These scrubs are packaged in a pre-moistened pad. First you should wash and clean your hands, then fold the Ocusoft pre-moistened pad over your index finger, close your eyes, and then gently scrub your eyelid with your index finger using side to side strokes. Then rinse your eyes with water and repeat the same for the other eyelid. Another method of cleaning your eyelids is using Avenova Antimicrobial lid and lash Solution. First wash your hands prior to application and be sure to remove any make-up or lotions around your eyes. Apply the spray to a cotton pad (or you can also apply the spray directly onto your eyelids with your eyes closed). Then close your eyes and using a horizontal motion wipe the base of all the upper lid lashes at least 3 times, applying to the base of your eyelashes along the lid margin. Then look up and wipe the base of the lower lashes with a horizontal motion at least 3 times, applying to the base of your eyelashes along the lid margin. Then with a new cotton pad repeat on the other eye.
When you have dry eyes this sends out a signal to your lacrimal gland to produce more tears, but then this results in an overproduction of tears causing tearing/watery eyes. The overproduction of tears is called reflex tearing. Your body is trying to counteract your dry eyes, so it then starts to produce more tears, but then it ends up flooding your eyes with too much tears, resulting in a vicious cycle of dry and then teary eyes. That is why it’s important to deal with the root of the cause of the tearing, which is your dry eyes, to stop this sequence of events from happening. But it’s important to also note that watery eyes can be caused by other conditions as well, so be sure to get a thorough evaluation by your eye doctor to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Depending on the severity of your dry eyes there are different eye drops we would recommend. If you have the milder version of dry eyes then over the counter artificial tears such as Systane Balance or Refresh Optive Artificial Tears may be sufficient enough to help relieve your symptoms of dry eyes. However, if you have more moderate/severe dry eyes a more viscous drop such as a gel drop or ointment may be more beneficial. In the event that over the counter eye drops are not providing much relief, there are other various prescription eye drops that your eye doctor can prescribe, such as Restasis or Cequa or Xiidra. Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface, and one component that causes dry eyes is ocular surface inflammation and damage; so Xiidra and Restasis/Cequa work by regulating the inflammatory processes in the eye that can affect tear production.
Medications (restasis/xiidra) for dry eye
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Restasis and Xiidra are two prescription eye drops for dry eye which have been found to be effective at treating its symptoms. If you have additional questions, or think either Restasis or Xiidra might be helpful for treating your dry eye symptoms, you can contact American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121. Patients with dry eyes visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of dry eye care for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

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I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

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Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

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Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

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Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

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