If you have dry eyes, your doctor may suggest treatment with Restasis. It’s a brand-name medication prescribed to treat chronic (long-term) dry eye in adults and some children. To learn about this condition, see “Is Restasis used for chronic dry eye?” below.
Restasis comes as an emulsion (an oily, liquid mixture) in eyedrop form.
Restasis contains the active drug cyclosporine. (The active drug is the ingredient that makes a medication work.) Cyclosporine belongs to a group of immunosuppressant drugs called calcineurin inhibitors. Immunosuppressant drugs work to decrease the activity of the immune system.
Restasis is also available as generic cyclosporine eye drops.
Keep reading to learn more about Restasis, including its uses, side effects, price, and more.
Restasis is prescribed to treat chronic (long-term) dry eye in adults and children ages 16 years and older.
With chronic dry eye, your eyes don’t make enough tears. Or the tears they make don’t work well enough at keeping moisture in your eyes. This condition is believed to be caused by inflammation (swelling and damage) affecting the ability of your eyes to make tears.
It’s not fully understood how Restasis works to treat dry eye. But it’s thought that reducing inflammation in your eyes helps improve their ability to produce and maintain tears.
Like most drugs, Restasis may cause mild to serious side effects. The lists below include some of the more common side effects the drug may cause. But they don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Restasis. They can also suggest ways to help reduce them.
Mild side effects
Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects Restasis can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read the drug’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Restasis that have been reported include:
- feeling as if something is in your eye
- blurry vision
- eye pain
- watery eyes
- burning sensation in eyes*
- itchy eye*
- red eye*
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Restasis can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Restasis, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
The only serious side effect reported with Restasis in studies was allergic reaction. This is discussed in more detail in the “Side effect focus” section just below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Restasis may cause.
Burning sensation in eyes
You may experience a burning sensation in your eyes after using Restasis eye drops. This was the most common side effect reported in studies of the drug. This side effect should be temporary and usually goes away within a few minutes.
What might help
Be careful not to touch the Restasis container tip to your eye. This can help prevent eye injury, as well as burning sensations.
In addition, it’s best not to touch the container tip to another surface, such as a countertop. This helps keep the Restasis tip free of germs or other particles, such as dust. These could cause a burning sensation if they get into your eye.
Let your doctor know if you have burning eyes that bother you or if the burning doesn’t go away after using Restasis. Your doctor may recommend ways to treat this side effect. Or they may suggest you stop using Restasis and try a different treatment instead.
Itchy eye is a possible side effect of Restasis eye drops, but it wasn’t common in the drug’s studies.
What might help
Be careful not to touch the Restasis container tip to your eye. This can help prevent eye irritation, such as itching.
In addition, it’s best not to touch the container tip to another surface, such as a countertop. This helps keep the Restasis tip free of germs or other particles, such as dust. These could cause itching if they get into your eye.
Talk with your doctor if your eyes itch after you use Restasis eye drops. They may recommend ways to treat this side effect. Or they may suggest you stop using Restasis and try a different treatment option.
Red eye is a possible side effect of Restasis eye drops. But this side effect wasn’t common in the drug’s studies.
What might help
Be careful not to touch the Restasis container tip to your eye. This can help prevent eye irritation, including red eye.
In addition, it’s best not to touch the container tip to another surface, such as a countertop. This helps keep the Restasis tip free of germs or other particles, such as dust. These could cause redness if they get into your eye.
Call your doctor if your eyes become red after using Restasis eye drops. They can recommend ways to treat this side effect. Or they may suggest you stop using Restasis and try a different treatment option instead.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Restasis. Allergic reaction wasn’t reported in studies of Restasis but has occurred since the drug was approved for use.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Restasis. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
You may wonder how Restasis compares with other drugs for chronic (long-term) dry eye, such as Xiidra. To learn how these drugs are alike and different, check out this article.
Your doctor can also tell you more about these treatment options.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.
Restasis is available as generic cyclosporine eye drops. Generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs. Talk with your doctor if you’d like to know about using generic cyclosporine eye drops.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the drug manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Restasis.
Are there alternatives, including homeopathic alternatives, for Restasis?
Yes, there are alternatives for Restasis, including homeopathic alternatives.
“Homeopathic” refers to homeopathy, a treatment philosophy developed more than 200 years ago. It’s based in part on the “law of minimum dose.” This is the belief that medications are more effective at lower doses.
Homeopathic treatments are often made of low doses of plant, animal, or mineral products. An example of a homeopathic treatment for chronic (long-term) dry eye is the herb Euphrasia (eyebright). But there is little to no evidence supporting the use of homeopathy for treating any medical condition, including chronic dry eye.
Homeopathy should not be used to replace conventional treatments proven to work. It should also not be used as a reason to postpone or avoid contacting a healthcare professional about a medical concern.
Other alternatives that have been proven effective for managing chronic dry eye include:
- cyclosporine 0.09% (Cequa)
- dextran/hypromellose (Bion Tears)
- lifitegrast (Xiidra)
- loteprednol etabonate (Lotemax, others)
- polyethylene glycol/propylene glycol (Systane)
Other treatments for chronic dry eye include:
- punctal plugs (tiny tubes placed into your tear ducts that help tears stay in your eyes)
- cleansing your eye area with diluted baby shampoo
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you’d like to learn more about alternatives for Restasis.
Will I have withdrawal symptoms if I stop using Restasis?
No, withdrawal symptoms aren’t likely if you stop using Restasis. (Withdrawal symptoms are symptoms that happen as a result of stopping a medication.)
But if you stop using Restasis, your dry eye symptoms may return. This may be prevented by using a different treatment for chronic (long-term) dry eye.
For this reason, you should talk with your doctor if you’re interested in stopping Restasis treatment. They can discuss other treatment options with you.
Does Restasis need to be refrigerated?
No, Restasis doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The storage temperature for Restasis is 59°F to 77°F (15°C to 25°C).
Can Restasis cause hair loss, cancer, or headaches?
No, Restasis isn’t known to cause hair loss, cancer, or headaches. These side effects weren’t reported by people who used Restasis in studies.
This drug contains cyclosporine as its active ingredient. (This is the ingredient that makes the drug work.) Restasis comes in the form of eye drops. When cyclosporine is used in this form, it isn’t expected to affect the rest of your body.
But when cyclosporine has been taken in other ways, such as a capsule that’s swallowed, it has caused headaches as a side effect. And there are rare reports of new cancers occurring in people taking cyclosporine as a capsule or liquid solution by mouth.
When a medication is taken as a capsule or liquid solution, it can cause effects throughout your body. But these side effects haven’t been reported with cyclosporine eye drops such as Restasis.
Does Restasis cause high blood pressure?
No, Restasis isn’t known to cause high blood pressure. This wasn’t a side effect reported by people who used the drug in studies.
Restasis contains cyclosporine as its active ingredient. (This is the ingredient that makes the drug work.) Restasis contains cyclosporine as an eye drop. When cyclosporine is used as an eye drop, it isn’t expected to affect the rest of your body.
But when this medication is taken as a capsule or liquid solution, it can cause effects throughout your body. Cyclosporine has caused high blood pressure as a side effect when it’s taken this way. But cyclosporine eye drops, such as Restasis, aren’t known to cause high blood pressure.
Is Restasis used for blepharitis?
Restasis isn’t approved to treat blepharitis (eyelid inflammation), but it may be used off-label for this condition. (With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a condition it isn’t approved to treat.)
Blepharitis causes symptoms including:
- itchy or swollen eyelids
- a burning sensation in your eye
- sensitivity to light
Restasis is approved for treating chronic (long-term) dry eye in adults and some children. Although it’s not approved to treat blepharitis, a
If you’re interested in learning more about off-label uses of Restasis, such as for blepharitis, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Restasis that’s right for you. Below are commonly prescribed dosages, but always use the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Form and strength
Restasis comes as an emulsion (an oily, liquid mixture) which you use as an eye drop. It comes in one strength of 0.5 milligrams per milliliter of solution (mg/mL). This strength can also be written as 0.05%.
For treating chronic (long-term) dry eye, you’ll use one Restasis drop in each eye twice per day. These doses should be applied about 12 hours apart. But be sure to follow your doctor’s dosing instructions.
Questions about Restasis’s dosage
Below are some common questions about Restasis and dosage.
- What if I miss a dose of Restasis? If you miss a Restasis dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you’ve missed. Then apply your next dose of eye drops at the scheduled time. Do not use more than one Restasis drop in each eye for each dose.
- Will I need to use Restasis long term? You’ll likely use Restasis long term if you and your doctor agree that it’s safe and working well for you.
- How many drops of Restasis do I use in each eye? You’ll use one drop of Restasis in each eye, likely twice per day. But always use the dose your doctor prescribes for you.
- How long does it take Restasis to work? Restasis may take 4 to 6 months to relieve symptoms of dry eye. But some people have symptom relief in about a month.
Restasis and Restasis MultiDose are similar medications. They’re both prescribed to treat chronic (long-term) dry eye in adults and some children. They’re both emulsions (oily, liquid mixtures) used as eye drops, and both contain cyclosporine as the active ingredient. (This is the ingredient that makes a drug work.)
Restasis comes in single-use vials, while Restasis MultiDose comes in a bottle that can be used for multiple doses.
To find out how Restasis and Restasis MultiDose compare, see this article or talk with your doctor.
Your doctor will explain how you should use Restasis. They’ll also explain how much to use and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Restasis comes as an emulsion (an oily, liquid mixture) that is administered as an eye drop.
If you wear contact lenses, remove them before putting Restasis in your eyes. And wait at least 15 minutes before putting your contact lenses back in after giving yourself a dose.
If you need tips for applying eye drops, check out this article.
Accessible medication containers and labels
If it’s hard for you to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies provide medication labels that:
- have large print
- use braille
- contain a code you can scan with a smartphone to change text into audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that offers these options if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
Using Restasis with other drugs
Depending on your dry eye symptoms, your doctor may prescribe Restasis alone or for use with other drugs.
Using other eye drops with Restasis
Your doctor may suggest using other eye drops along with Restasis. If you’d like to know more, talk with your doctor. They can recommend whether you’ll need other eye drops and how they should be used together with Restasis.
In studies, some people used Restasis along with other anti-inflammatory eye drops. It’s important to note that these people did not see an increase in tear production while using Restasis. For this reason, your doctor may recommend that you avoid anti-inflammatory eye drops while using Restasis. Examples include:
- loteprednol (Alrex, Eysuvis, Lotemax, others)
- dexamethasone (Maxidex)
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Restasis and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Restasis affect me?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
There are important things you should discuss with your doctor before starting treatment with Restasis. It’s important to tell them about your overall health, any medical conditions you may have, and any medications you take.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Restasis isn’t known to interact with other medications. But you should still tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter kinds, before you start Restasis. You should also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can use this information to monitor for any new drug interactions that may be discovered while you’re using Restasis.
Restasis may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. (Conditions or factors that could prevent your doctor from prescribing a drug are known as contraindications.) Talk with your doctor about your health history before you use Restasis. Factors to consider include those below.
- Contact lenses. Wearing contact lenses usually isn’t recommended if you have chronic (long-term) dry eye. Contacts need moisture to function correctly and may not work well in people with dry eye. If you do wear contacts, it’s important to take them out before putting Restasis drops in your eyes. And you’ll need to wait at least 15 minutes after applying the drops before putting contact lenses in.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Restasis or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe it for you. Ask them what other medications might be better options.
Restasis and alcohol
Drinking alcohol isn’t known to interact with Restasis eye drop treatment. If you have questions about consuming alcohol while using Restasis, talk with your doctor.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It should be safe to use Restasis during pregnancy. Because Restasis is an eye drop, your body doesn’t absorb the medication. It’s only expected to affect your eyes. Your doctor can discuss the safety of using Restasis during pregnancy with you.
It’s not known if it’s safe to breastfeed while using Restasis. But because the drug is not expected to be absorbed by the rest of your body, it’s unlikely that it would cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.
If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor before using Restasis.
Do not use more Restasis than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
What to do in case you use too much Restasis
Call your doctor if you think you’ve used too much Restasis. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number or go to the nearest emergency room.
Talk with your doctor if you’re considering treatment with Restasis. Ask them questions to help you feel comfortable with the drug and your other treatment options. Some examples to help you get started include:
- Are there alternatives to Restasis that I could try, such as punctal plugs?
- If I have side effects from Restasis, is there a different dose I can try?
- What should I know about alternative treatment options for Restasis?
You may also like to learn more about treatments for chronic (long-term) dry eye.
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Will using Restasis cause weird tastes in my mouth?Anonymous
No, it’s not likely. Weird tastes weren’t a side effect reported by people who used Restasis in studies.
Having a weird or changed sense of taste is known as dysgeusia. This is a known side effect of Xiidra, a different drug prescribed to treat chronic (long-term) dry eye. But this isn’t a known side effect of Restasis.The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.