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Can you get Restasis eye drops over the counter?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on May 24, 2022.

Official answer


No, Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic) eye drops require a prescription from your doctor. An optometrist or ophthalmologist are eye doctor specialists that usually prescribe this medicine. This drug is approved to treat dry eye disease.

Restasis contains the medicine known as cyclosporine ophthalmic and is used to treat chronic dry eye disease (also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca). It is an immunosuppressant in a class of drugs called calcineurin inhibitors. With this disorder, inflammation in your eye can lead to dryness. Restasis helps to reduce the inflammation and improve the eye’s ability to make tears.

Treatments for dry eyes that are available over-the-counter (OTC) are called lubricating agents or artificial tears. Some products are also available as eye ointments, typically used at bedtime. While they can temporarily relieve the symptoms of dry eyes, they do not treat the underlying cause.

Examples of OTC artificial tears or ointments include:

  • Isopto Tears
  • Oasis Tears
  • Refresh
  • Systane
  • Sooth
  • TheraTears
  • Visine Tears

Many patients need 3 to 6 months to see the full results with Restasis, depending upon their symptoms. In the mean time, lubricating drops can help to provide temporary relief. If your eye doctor prescribes Restasis, they may recommend that you use artificial tears during the time that you wait for Restatis to take effect. If so, be sure to wait at least 15 minutes between using lubricating drops and Restasis.

Restasis Ophthalmic emulsion is available as a brand name product and a generic, which may help you save you money. If you prefer generics, ask your doctor to prescribe the 30 or 60 count cyclosporine ophthalmic single-use vials. The Restasis MultiDose vial is not yet available as a generic. Most insurance companies cover Restasis or the generic, but your cost may vary based on copays.

The generic product is just as safe and effective as the brand name, as determined by testing at the FDA. Also, ask your pharmacist about generic options.

This is not all the information you need to know about Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your eye doctor’s directions. Review the full product information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your eye doctor or other health care provider.


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