You’ve probably seen the commercials for Restasis eye drops while you’re chillin’ watching TV. It’s not a very informative commercial as far as telling you how the drug works, and since I’m using them I thought it might be helpful to some people if I explained how they work and what to expect.
There are multiple causes of chronic dry eyes, some are autoimmune, in which case Restasis drops would be effective. I have Lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, which most likely raises my chances for having an autoimmune-type chronic dry eye.
Your immune system can attack your tear glands, which in turn makes them produce less tears, leading to dry eyes. Restasis is not a soothing or lubricating eye drop, it’s actually an immuno-suppressant. It works by telling your immune system to cut the crap, with the hopes of your glands healing and producing tears again.
I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews for Restasis. Some people get bad side-effects from the drops, like stinging, burning, and itching, which have been bad enough in some instances that people had to discontinue the drops. For some people, relief can take months, others seem to get relief within a few weeks. It seems to be case-by-case, and you won’t really know how they’ll work for you until you try them.
I normally wear contacts, and have for about 9 years. My prescription is -3.75, which isn’t too extreme, but I can’t see without them. I wear acuvue one-day moist, which I started wearing a few years ago because monthlies were getting too much protein build-up on them and they weren’t comfortable for an entire month. About 6 months ago or so I noticed my eyes were a bit dry, and it just went downhill from there. Just in the past 2 months or so I haven’t really been able to wear contacts at all. Even though they are called “moist” a problem with lenses that are made up of a higher percentage of water is, to stay wet, they have to absorb moisture from your eye. This is OK for people who don’t have dry eyes, but it hasn’t been working for me. I’ve been wearing my glasses nearly all the time now, and don’t get me wrong, I have a nice little collection of cute frames, but it’s uncomfortable for me to have the frames on my face all the time. My headaches are so bad that I can’t stand the weight of anything on my head, glasses, hats, ponytails etc, so I really miss wearing my contacts in these situations. I have super-lightweight lenses which definitely makes a difference but it still is a problem I fight with constantly. I have also given up wearing any kind of makeup, because my eyes are so dry the slightest little grain of anything causes huge irritation, and there isn’t a big selection, if any, of contact-safe eye makeup (no company wants that liability…) I don’t feel like I need makeup, but it’s something I enjoy from an artistic/fashion standpoint, and I miss having fun with it.
So, I took the plunge. I was really expecting them to irritate my eyes, but they don’t. I don’t get any of the side effects, which is pretty lucky. I’ve been using them for about 5 days and they seem to already be helping, which is lucky too, since I was expecting them to take a few months. I had a day this week where I wore my contacts and eye makeup, for about 8 hours, and I only had a little dryness. That’s definite progress. I’m still going to be careful how long I wear my lenses and skip makeup most of the time to give my eyes a chance to heal.
My prescription is written for a drop in each eye, twice a day, about 12 hours apart. They come in single use vials instead of the usual bottle, and they have no preservatives. It’s still too early for me to know how they will work out in the long run, but so far, so good. I’ll continue to write about how they are helping me. Also, if you wear contacts, it states that you should wait at least 15 minutes after using the drops to put your contacts in. I typically wait longer since I use the drops first thing in the morning, and I don’t like to put my contacts in until I’m fully awake.