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How long does it take for Restasis to work?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on July 30, 2021.

Official answer


When treating dry eyes with Restasis (cyclosporine), it can take 3 to 6 months to notice an increase in tear production or improved symptoms.

How Restasis works

The active ingredient in Restasis is cyclosporine. It inhibits calcineurin—an activator of T cells—and ultimately prevents T-cell replication. T cells are a part of the immune system that produce cytokines that mediate an inflammatory response. Cytokines are small proteins that signal the immune system to do its job. After cytokines are released in the eye, the ocular surface becomes inflamed and induces dry eye symptoms. Restasis blocks this process to reduce ocular inflammation.

Restasis also prevents programmed cell death that occurs in response to cellular stress or damage. It accomplishes this by inhibiting the opening of pores on the mitochondria (cell's powerhouse). With fewer tear-producing cells dying off, your production of tears is increased.

More than 15 million Americans struggle with dry eyes. It is linked with the evaporation of tears too quickly from the eye or decreased tear production by glands that lubricate the eye.

Symptoms of dry eyes include:

  • A burning feeling
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Stinging
  • Feeling as if a foreign object were scratching your eye

It can affect your ability to perform everyday activities, such as driving, watching television and working on a computer.

  1. Carlos de Oliveira R, Wilson SE. Practical guidance for the use of cyclosporine ophthalmic solutions in the management of dry eye disease. Clinical Ophthalmology. July 1, 2019.
  2. Allergan. How to use Restasis. [Accessed July 8, 2021].
  3. Deveci H, Kobak S. The efficacy of topical 0.05% cyclosporine A in patients with dry eye disease associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.International Ophthalmology. January 9, 2014. doi:10.1007/s10792-014-9901-4.
  4. Schultz C. Safety and efficacy of cyclosporine in the treatment of chronic dry eye.Ophthalmology and Eye Diseases. June 24, 2014.
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Restasis. July 2017. Available at: [Accessed July 7, 2021].
  6. National Eye Institute (NEI). Dry Eye. December 22, 2020. Available at: [Accessed July 7, 2021].

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