Safety And Efficacy Of Cyclosporine For Treating Chronic Dry Eye

Safety And Efficacy Of Cyclosporine For Treating Chronic Dry Eye

Cyclosporine has been found quite effective in treating chronic dry eyes. Its usage has mild side effects but is safe for treatment.


Chronic dry eye is a multifactorial disease in which the person’s eyes do not produce enough tears or layers of tears to keep the eyes coated with liquid. This syndrome makes life uncomfortable for the sufferer but never causes vision loss. Just like most of the other eye problems, it may or may not be cured completely but it can be treated and controlled.


  • The person begins to experience a burning sensation in the eyes.
  • The sufferer’s eyes tend to become more and more red, as the condition starts getting more serious.
  • There are chances of the vision becoming blurry.
  • The eyes tend to become more tired than usual in the dry-eye syndrome.

After observing one or more of the above symptoms, the person must go for further diagnosis of chronic dry eye.


A dry eye is a condition in which the eyes aren’t enough moisturized. The eyes produce tears that serve to keep the eyes moist. When the eyes and the glands concerned fail to produce tears or produce tears of less volume and of deteriorated quality, the person is said to suffer from dry-eye syndrome.

When there occurs an imbalance in the tear-flow system, the tear production slows down. In some cases, the condition develops along with age. While in other cases, the condition might also develop due to prolonged exposure to computer or mobile screens.

Hence, there are various causes of dry eyes. It depends on the person’s conditions and circumstances.


There are certain tests and ways of examining the person’s eyes after which it can be concluded whether the person, has a chronic dry eye or not. Some of these tests are listed below:

1. A comprehensive eye exam:

In this eye exam, the doctor takes a look at your eye health history and examines the chances of having or not having a chronic dry eye.

2.A test to measure the volume of tears:

There are two tests to measure the volume of tears produced:

  • Schirmer test
  • Phenol red thread test

3.Tests to determine the quality of tears:

These tests use special dyes in the eyedrops to determine the surface condition of the eyes and hence the quality of tears produced.

4.Tear osmolarity test:

This test measures the amount of water in the tears secreted by your eyes. The tears secreted by the chronic dry eyes contain less amount of water than usual.


The treatment of chronic dry eye totally depends on the condition of the person’s eyes, which becomes well known only after the doctors have performed the tests stated above, to determine the volume of tears, the quality of tears, etc. Some of the treatments aim to improve the quality and volume of the tears secreted by the patient’s eyes so that the eyes recover from the dryness soon. On the other hand, some treatments focus on controlling the factors that cause dryness of the eyes.

In most cases, the doctors initiate the treatment by prescribing over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears) to the patient.

Some out of many medications provided for the treatment of chronic dry eye include:

Drugs to reduce eyelid inflammation:

Inflammation along the eyelids can stop the oil glands from secreting oil into tears, making them extremely dry. In such cases, doctors prescribe drugs that reduce inflammation of the eyelids so that the glands can start secreting oil again.

Tear stimulating drugs:

These are the drugs that stimulate tear production. These drugs come in the form of eye drops or pills. Sweating through the body can be one side effect of using these drugs.

Eyedrops made from your own blood:

In cases where the dry eye symptoms are so adverse that no eye drop works in treating the syndrome, a sample of the patient’s blood is taken to prepare a special kind of eye drops to treat his/her eyes. RBCs are removed from the blood sample and then it is mixed with a salt solution.


Apart from the above medications, one prominent eye drop used for treating dry eyes is “cyclosporine”.

Cyclosporine is a type of drug that helps to reduce swelling in the eyes and hence increasing tear production.


Several studies have been conducted regarding the efficiency of cyclosporine eye drops in treating chronic dry eye. These studies show the patients taking cyclosporine eye drops for chronic dry eye need to take less supplemental medicines along with the eye drops as compared to the patients not taking cyclosporine eye drops. This clearly shows that the eye-drop is quite effective for dry eyes over other kinds of eye drops.

The eye drop is very effective for it provides rapid relief from dry eye symptoms. Although it takes three to four months to completely recover from dry eye syndrome, appreciable improvement in the patient’s condition can be seen after about two weeks of proper and continuous usage of the eye drops.

Some experts even say that in order to have a strong effect of the drug on the dry eyes of the patient, it is advised to take the drug along with some other strong complementary drugs (drugs that contain potassium can be harmful to be taken along with cyclosporine). Prior to cyclosporine, the medication that was being used for the treatment of chronic dry eye was the use of artificial tears only. Cyclosporine stimulates the patient’s lacrimal glands to produce its own tears with improved quality. In short, the treatment prior to the introduction of cyclosporine treated the dry eyes with “artificial tears” whereas this new eye drop- cyclosporine produces original tears and hence treats the syndrome in a better manner.

Talking of the internal effects of cyclosporine, the drug temporarily weakens the immune system; although the normal activity is restored after some time.

A study conducted in Korea considering 392 patients suffering from chronic dry eye showed that about 72% of the patients found the drug- cyclosporine effective for treating their dry eyes.


The studies conducted for studying the safety of the eye drop- cyclosporine showed that the eye drops had almost no or little side effects on the patients.

“The drug is very safe and side effects are minimal”, Dr. Sall said. “There were no serious reactions. The minimal side effects included mild burning sensation in the eyes and foreign body sensation. “

Such kind of sensations is pretty normal.

In some cases, the use of cyclosporine eye drops might result in blurry vision. If such a situation occurs, the doctor should examine the patient well. There are chances of the drug not suiting the body of the patient.

Other side effects of the eye drops include headache, vomiting, and unusual growth of body hair. If the side effects worsen or last longer than expected, consult a doctor. Gum swelling can also be one side effect. Take proper care of your teeth to avoid this.

The safety of cyclosporine in pregnant ladies has still not been guaranteed. Moreover, it is advised that cyclosporine should be consumed by pregnant ladies only if there is a clear need to do so.

The safety and efficacy of the drug-cyclosporine have still not been confirmed in children below 16 years of age.

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