Cequa (cyclosporine) and Restasis (cyclosporine) are brand-name prescription medications. They’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat dry eye syndrome, which is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

The following information explains how Cequa and Restasis are alike and different. If you’re thinking about taking one of these drugs, discuss this article with your doctor. They can help determine whether Cequa may be better than Restasis for you.

Note: For more comprehensive information about these two drugs, you can refer to our Cequa and Restasis articles.

Key differences between Cequa and Restasis eye drops

Here are a few of the main differences between Cequa and Restasis:

  • Forms: Cequa comes as a solution in single-use droppers. Restasis comes as an emulsion (an oily mixture) in single-use droppers and multiuse bottles. (See “Dosages, forms, and administration” below.)
  • Strengths: Cequa comes in a higher strength than Restasis. (See “Dosages, forms, and administration” below.)
  • Side effects: Cequa has been reported to cause headaches. This side effect was not reported in clinical trials of Restasis. (See “Side effects of Cequa vs. Restasis” below.)

For more information about these factors, see “Dosages, forms, and administration” below.

Below are answers to some common questions about Cequa and Restasis.

How do Cequa, Restasis, and Xiidra eye drops compare?

Below are a few ways Cequa, Restasis, and Xiidra compare.

CequaRestasisXiidra
Active ingredientcyclosporinecyclosporinelifitegrast
Drug classcalcineurin inhibitor immunosuppressantcalcineurin inhibitor immunosuppressantlymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) antagonist
Usesdry eye syndromedry eye syndromedry eye syndrome
Formsliquid solution inside single-use droppers• Restasis single dose: liquid emulsion (an oily mixture) inside single-use droppers
• Restasis MultiDose: liquid emulsion inside a multiuse bottle
liquid solution inside single-use droppers
Frequencytwice per day (about every 12 hours)twice per day (about every 12 hours)twice per day (about every 12 hours)

To learn more about how these medications are alike and different, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also refer to these articles about Cequa, Restasis, and Xiidra.

Do Cequa and Restasis have a risk of eye infection and eye injury?

Yes, Cequa and Restasis may cause eye infection or eye injury in certain situations.

Cequa and Restasis are eye drops that come in droppers and Restasis is also available in a multiuse bottle. Both drugs have a risk of eye infection if the dropper tip gets contaminated and passes an infection to your eye. In addition, both drugs have a risk of eye injury if the dropper tip forcefully touches your eye.

Because of these risks, it’s important not to touch the Cequa or Restasis dropper tip on another surface. Examples include countertops or your eyelashes. This helps keep the dropper tip from being contaminated with germs or other substances, such as dust. And keeping the dropper free of germs and substances can reduce your risk of infection if the dropper tip touches your eye.

If possible, however, it’s important not to touch the Cequa or Restasis dropper tip on your eye. In addition to reducing your risk of infection, doing so can also help prevent eye injury.

If you have questions about how to give yourself Cequa or Restasis eye drops safely, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How much Cequa or Restasis costs depends on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes, your insurance plan, and your pharmacy. You can visit Optum Perks for price estimates of Cequa and Restasis.

Cequa and Restasis are brand-name drugs. Restasis single dose comes in a generic form, while Cequa and Restasis MultiDose do not. Brand-name medications are often more expensive than generics. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn about the generic form of Restasis single dose.

For more information about Restasis and cost, you can also refer to this article.

Here’s information about the generic status of Cequa and Restasis, as well as details on their active ingredient.

CequaRestasis
Generic availableno• Restasis single dose: yes
• Restasis MultiDose: no
Active ingredientcyclosporinecyclosporine
Drug classcalcineurin inhibitor immunosuppressantcalcineurin inhibitor immunosuppressant

The name of the generic version of Restasis single dose is cyclosporine.

Cequa and Restasis have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat dry eye syndrome, which is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Cequa or Restasis and children

Cequa is not approved for use in children.

Restasis is approved to treat dry eye syndrome in children ages 16 years and older.

Note: For more information about the drugs’ uses, see our articles about Cequa and Restasis.

Here’s a quick look at the dosage and administration of Cequa and Restasis for the condition both drugs treat.

Dosage for keratoconjunctivitis sicca

Below are the dosages of Cequa and Restasis to treat dry eye syndrome. This condition is also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Cequa for dry eye syndromeRestasis for dry eye syndrome
FormsEye drop that comes as a liquid solution inside 0.25-milliliter (mL) single-use droppersRestasis single dose: eye drop that comes as a liquid emulsion (an oily mixture) inside 0.4-mL single-use droppers
Restasis MultiDose: eye drop that comes as a liquid emulsion inside 5.5-mL multiuse bottles
Strengths0.9 milligrams per mL (mg/mL), which is sometimes written as 0.09%0.5 mg/mL, which is sometimes written as 0.05%
Doseone drop into each eyeone drop into each eye
Frequencytwice per day (about every 12 hours)twice per day (about every 12 hours)

Note: For more information about dosage, see our articles about Cequa and Restasis.

Cequa and Restasis both contain the active ingredient cyclosporine. These drugs can cause some of the same side effects, as well as some different ones. Some of the side effects reported in clinical trials of these drugs are mentioned below.

For more information about side effects of the two drugs, see our articles about Cequa and Restasis. You can also refer to the prescribing information for Cequa, Restasis single dose, and Restasis MultiDose.

Mild side effects

The following table lists some of the more commonly reported mild side effects of Cequa and Restasis. The table may also include less common mild side effects that you might have concerns about.

Mild side effectsCequaRestasis
burning sensation in your eyexx
inflammation and redness of the conjunctiva (the outer surface of your eye)xx
irritation of your eyex
inflammation of the eyelidx
headachex
watery eyes or discharge from your eyex
blurry visionx
pain, itching, or stinging in your eyex
urinary tract infection (UTI)x
feeling as though something is in your eyex
mild allergic reactionx*x†

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. If the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* An allergic reaction is possible after using Cequa, but this side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials.
† An allergic reaction is possible after using Restasis. This side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials of Restasis single dose or Restasis MultiDose. However, allergic reaction has been reported since the drug became available for use.

Serious side effects

The following table lists the reported serious side effects of Cequa and Restasis.

Serious side effectsCequaRestasis
severe allergic reaction*x*x†

If you have serious side effects while using Cequa or Restasis, call your doctor immediately. If the side effects feel life threatening or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

* An allergic reaction is possible after using Cequa, but this side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials.
† An allergic reaction is possible after using Restasis. This side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials of Restasis single dose or Restasis MultiDose. However, allergic reaction has been reported since the drug became available for use.

Below are details about the effectiveness of Cequa and Restasis.

Prescribing information. For information about how these drugs performed in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Cequa, Restasis single dose, and Restasis MultiDose. Keep in mind that trial results may not apply to your individual health situation.

Treatment guidelines. Another way to determine whether a drug is considered effective is to look at treatment guidelines. When an organization includes certain drugs in treatment guidelines, this means research has shown the drug to be safe and effective.

Topical forms of cyclosporine, such as Cequa and Restasis, are recommended as a treatment option for people with dry eye syndrome.* This recommendation can be found in guidelines from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. (Topical means applied to the skin.)

* Cequa and Restasis are approved to treat dry eye syndrome, which is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Cequa and Restasis may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The two drugs share some of the same precautions, but they also have different ones. Some of these precautions are mentioned below.

If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before using Cequa or Restasis.

PrecautionCequaRestasis
if you’ve had an allergic reaction to either drug or any of its ingredientsxx
if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnantxx
if you’re breastfeeding or thinking about breastfeedingxx
if you wear contact lensesxx

Note: For more comprehensive information about these drugs, you can refer to our Cequa and Restasis articles.

Switching between Cequa and Restasis might be possible.

If you’d like to know more about switching between Cequa and Restasis, talk with your doctor. They can give you additional details and help determine the best course of action for your personal situation. Even if two drugs treat the same condition or are in the same drug class, your body can still respond differently. It’s important that you do not stop, start, or switch any of your drug treatments without your doctor’s recommendation.

Some key points to remember when comparing Cequa and Restasis include:

  • Cequa has been reported to cause headaches. However, this side effect was not reported in people taking Restasis.
  • Cequa and Restasis are eye drops. Cequa comes as a liquid solution and is only available in single-use droppers. Restasis comes as a liquid emulsion (an oily mixture). It’s available in both single-use droppers and multiuse bottles.
  • Cequa and Restasis contain cyclosporine as their active drug. However, Cequa contains a higher strength of this drug than Restasis.

If you’d like to learn more about Cequa or Restasis, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about similarities and differences between the drugs. They can also help determine whether one drug or the other might work well for you.

Note: For more information about dry eye syndrome, see our eye health hub.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.