Cyclosporine Ophthalmic (Optimmune®, Restasis®) for Dogs and Cats

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Overview of Cyclosporine Ophthalmic (Optimmune®, Restasis) for Dogs and Cats

  • Cyclosporine ophthalmic medication, commonly known by the brand name Optimmune® or Restasis®) is used as a topical eye treatment for immune diseases of the cornea such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye), pannus and chronic superficial keratitis in dogs and cats. 
  • Cyclosporine is a polypeptide agent originally isolated from a fungus. Originally, cyclosporine was compounded with virgin olive oil or purified corn oil and used as a topical eye treatment. This drug is classified as a T-Cell Immunosuppressive Agent. 
  • It is primarily used to suppress the immune system, and has been extensively used in people to prevent organ rejection following transplantation.
  • In dogs, cylcopsporine has been shown to increase tear production, possibly by stimulating the tear gland.
  • Cyclosporine, when applied to the eyes, can reduce scar tissue and pigment that has developed due to disease.
  • The mechanism of action is not fully understood in the treatment of keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) but about 75 to 85 percent of patients respond favorably.
  • Cyclosporine has not been shown to be effective in cats.
  • Cyclosporing is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • Brand Names and Other Names of Cyclosporine Ophthalmic

  • This drug is registered for use in animals only.
  • Human formulations: Restasis®
  • Veterinary formulations: Optimmune (Schering-Plough)
  • Uses of Cyclosporine Ophthalmic for Dogs and Cats

  • Cyclosporine ophthalmic is used as a topical eye treatment for immune diseases of the cornea such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye), pannus and chronic superficial keratitis.
  • Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, cyclosporine can cause side effects in some dogs and cats.
  • Cyclosporine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Cyclosporine should be used with caution if a corneal ulcer is present.
  • The human formulation Restasis® does not appear to be effective in treating dogs with keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). 
  • Due to the low dose applied to the eye, little of the drug is absorbed systemically.
  • To date, no systemic reactions or toxicity has been noted.
  • How Cyclosporine is Supplied

  • Cyclosporine is available in a 0.2 percent ointment in 3.5 gram tubes.
  • Dosing Information of Cyclosporine Ophthalmic for Dogs and Cats

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • Cyclosporine is applied to the eyes twice daily. For severe cases, three times daily may be needed.
  • Treatment may need to be continued for 3 to 8 weeks before a dramatic increase in tear production is seen.
  • If successful, treatment will need to be maintained for life, 1 to 2 times daily.
  • If treatment is discontinued, clinical signs typically return quickly.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.
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