The FDA says Xiidra's safety was assessed in four separate studies. Over 1,000 mostly female patients, ages 19 to 97, participated. This might have been because other studies show that dry eye mainly affects women. They received either placebo eye drops or Xiidra eye drops to be used twice a day for twelve weeks. Those treated with Xiidra had a lot more improvement in the signs and symptoms of dry eyes than those who received the placebo. There were no differences between older and younger patients.
No matter how safe a drug appears, there are always side effects. Xiidra is no different. Common side effects include eye irritation, eye discomfort, blurred vision, and an unusual or unpleasant taste in the mouth. The experience of the taste is called dysgeusia. None of those symptoms are cited as reasons to discontinue the medication, even by the FDA, and side effects can be expected with any medication!
Though Xiidra’s trials used 76% women, none of them were pregnant or breastfeeding mothers so it may be included amongst contraindications. There is no evidence to support or deny that it may be harmful to pregnant women, so those who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should consult with their doctor. It is also unknown if Xiidra can harm a baby through breast milk. Breastfeeding mothers should talk to their doctors as well.
People who wear contact lenses can use Xiidra, with a few caveats. They should take the lenses out before use and should also wait 15 minutes before putting their lenses back in. The same sanitary measures that apply to wearing contacts, like having clean hands and not contaminating anything that will touch the eye, applies to the use of Xiidra.
Allergic reactions to Xiidra are more serious than the side effects, but they are few. They include breaking out in hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat. Any such reaction should be reported to emergency medical personnel and to the company. If persistent vision problems or severe redness or irritation occur, a person is advised to discontinue use of Xiidra and call their doctor to discuss what to do next.
When left untreated, dry eye syndrome can lead to pain, ulceration, and scars on the cornea. It can also make everyday tasks difficult or nearly impossible. Xiidra can help with those things, but it is advisable to know the risks of any drug one takes to cure symptoms. Only a doctor can prescribe it and any concerns should be discussed with them. Have you tried Xiidra? If not, what excites you about this new medication option?
Dr. Travis Zigler
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