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    New Drops Offer Hope for Dry Eyes


    Doctors also are seeing more and more cases among patients who have undergone corneal laser surgery to correct nearsightedness.

    In the study, the investigators, led by Kenneth Sall, MD, looked at nearly 670 patients who completed the six-month trial. They tested cyclosporine in two concentrations: 0.05% and 0.1%, each administered as one eye drop twice a day.

    A third group received dummy drops that contained no drug twice a day. Patients were allowed to use artificial tears as needed up to month four, but could not administer them 30 minutes before or after taking the study medication to prevent dilution of the medication.

    Both concentrations of cyclosporine produced significantly greater improvements in symptoms than the dummy drops. They also elicited improvements in blurred vision, the need for artificial tears, and the physician's evaluation of overall response to treatment. The most common negative side effects were burning and stinging of the eyes, but these symptoms passed with time and study participants rated them mild to moderate.

    The cyclosporine drops now are awaiting FDA approval, which "could happen almost any time between now and the fall," says Mundorf.

    Once approved, the drops will be available by prescription only, because "cyclosporine is not a drug to be taken lightly. It will probably be reserved for people using artificial tears four or five times a day and who are still uncomfortable."

    Vital Information:

    • A new study shows that cyclosporine drops, which are currently awaiting FDA approval, can significantly improve the symptoms of dry-eye disease.
    • Current treatments available for this condition include artificial tears and plugs in the tear ducts, both of which are ineffective in many patients.
    • Dry-eye disease occurs most commonly in postmenopausal women, but it is also associated with eye injury, autoimmune diseases, certain medications, and laser surgery of the cornea.
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