An Alternative Treatment
Decreased tear meniscus in dry eye.
As an alternative to steroids—or as an adjunctive therapy—topical cyclosporine can also be used to control inflammation in dry eye disease. While cyclosporine does not demonstrate the rapid anti-inflammatory effect of steroids, it carries fewer risks and is safe for long-term use.
Because of their complementary efficacy and safety profiles, many practitioners often begin dry eye treatment by prescribing both topical steroids and cyclosporine. Following the recommendation of the Asclepius Panel, the use of combination therapy is instituted with the topical corticosteroid, Lotemax (loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspension %, Bausch + Lomb) and Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion %, Allergan). 24 The Asclepius Panel recommends practitioners begin early treatment with an anti-inflammatory agent (such as Lotemax) four times a day to improve symptoms and to prevent disease progression. After two weeks, the frequency of the corticosteroid is reduced to twice daily and supplemented with Restasis twice a day. Treatment with loteprednol was stopped after day 60, while cyclosporine treatment is continued.
Topical steroids are available as creams, lotions, gels and ointments; selection of an appropriate product can also provide good moisturization of the skin. The wide spectrum of potencies and bases allows these mediations to be used both effectively and safely while under the care of an experienced physician.
During flares, over-the-counter moisturizing preparations that include a topical corticosteroid (such as clobetasone butyrate and hydrocortisone) are helpful to control inflammation and restore the skin barrier. The intensive use of emollient-based products can reduce the need for topical steroids.