Disease and Illnesses of dogs – Dry Eye – Optimmune

What is Optimmune for dogs?

Optimmune is a drug which is used to control chronic inflammation of the eyes or conjunctivitis, specifically that caused by auto immune disease in the eye. Optimmune is a topical ointment which comes in 3.5g tubes and is manufactured by Intervet Schering Plough Animal Health. The active ingredient in Optimmune is a drug called cyclosporine. The exact regime for administering Optimmune will be determined by your vet but is usually administered onto the eye twice daily.

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What is Optimmune used for?

Optimmune is used to control recurrent inflammation of the eyes specifically that which is caused by auto immune disease, where the body starts to damage its own tissue. In this case, it damages the lacrimal glands which produce tears and the eyes become dry. Dry Eye is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) and this is the condition that Optimmune is used to treat. Optimmune stimulates tear production therefore lubricating the eye and reducing inflammation. The active ingredient that achieves this is cyclosporine, a drug that suppresses the immune system.

Optimmune tips

·      Only use Optimmune as advised to do so by your vet

·      Optimmune should be administered twice daily

·      Take your pet for regular checkups to monitor progress

·      Optimmune can be combined with other topical eye medications

·      Optimmune is a thick, petroleum based ointment

·      Store below 250C and out of reach of children

·      Wear gloves when applying and wash hands after use

·      Optimmune can take between 10 days and 6 weeks to show an improvement

·      90% of dogs affected with KCS need lifelong treatment

Side effects

·      Optimmune is generally a very safe drug with few associated problems

·      Optimmune tends to remain in the eye and not be absorbed into the body

·      Do not use Optimmune in pregnant animals as its safety has not been determined

·      There can be a mild irritation of the eye in the first few days

·      If this irritation continues then treatment with Optimmune should be stopped

·      Do not stop or change treatment with Optimmune without checking with your vet

·      Optimmune shouldn’t be used if there is bacterial or fungal infection in the eye

·      Treatment needs to be continuous to be able to work, tear production will stop again within 24 hours of stopping treatment with Optimmune.

 Dosage and Administration

 ·       Optimmune is administered to the affected eye twice daily, approximately 12 hours apart

·       Each dose of Optimmune consists of  1/4inch or 1/2cm of Optimmune ointment

·       Any excess discharge should be bathed from the eye before applying Optimmune

·       Treatment with Optimmune is long term and needs to be given daily

·       You should avoid contaminating the tube of Optimmune when administering it

·       Replace the cap of the Optimmune after use

·       Any unused Optimmune remaining in the open tube after one month should be discarded

·       The majority of dogs affected with KCS require lifelong treatment with Optimmune

·       Wear gloves when administering and wash hands after use

 Optimmune is often used alongside products such as Lacri-Lube and Viscotears

Further Information about Optimmune

Optimmune is a drug which contains the active ingredient cyclosporine. Optimmune is used to treat a condition called Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) or “Dry Eye”. KCS is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system damages other tissues in the body, in this case the lacrimal glands which produce protective tears. When these tears are missing the eyes become dry and inflamed. A test called a Schirmer Tear test (STT) measures this tear production and if it is low, Optimmune can be used to stimulate the tear production. The cyclosporine in Optimmune is a drug which suppresses the immune system and so reverses the effects of the autoimmune mediated dry eye. Treatment with Optimmune can take between 10 days and 6 weeks to show an improvement but when the lacrimal glands are producing tears again the inflammation should resolve. The vast majority of cases of KCS require lifelong treatment with Optimmune but prognosis is good with continued treatment.

Optimmune is available as a white, petroleum based ointment which is applied topically to the surface of the eye. Optimmune ointment contains 0.2% cyclosporine and comes in a tube containing 3.5g of Optimmune. Optimmune is made by Intervet Schering Plough Animal Health and is a POM-V drug which means it can only be obtained from a vet or with a prescription from a vet who is looking after your pet.

Optimmune is generally a safe drug as it remains mainly in the cornea and is not absorbed into the rest of the body so its effects remain local. Even so there can be mild side effects. Mild irritation of the eye and if this persists for over a week then treatment should be stopped. Optimmune should not be used in pregnant or lactating animals as its safety in these animals has not been determined. Although the cyclosporine in Optimmune suppresses the immune system it has been shown that long term use of Optimmune does not cause an increased incidence of infections in the eye.

Further Information about Dosage and Administration

Optimmune is a topical ointment that contains 0.2% of the active ingredient, cyclosporine. It is manufactured by Intervet Schering Plough Animal Health and is available as tubes of 3.5g of Optimmune. Optimmune is administered to the surface of the affected eye or eyes twice daily, every 12 hours. Each dose of Optimmune is ¼ inch or ½ centimetre of the ointment. Excess discharge from the eyes should be gently bathed away before the ointment is administered.    

Treatment should be continuous as the effects of Optimmune do not last for long and tear production will reduce again within 24 hours of stopping treatment. An improvement of the clinical signs will usually be seen in approximately a fortnight but it can take up to 6 weeks for an improvement to be seen.

You should try to avoid contamination of the tube of Optimmune when administering it to your pet. Replace the cap after use and wear gloves when administering Optimmune. If the ointment comes into contact with your skin them wash it off. You should discard any remaining contents of the tube after one month and start a new tube of Optimmune.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What does Optimmune do?

A. Optimmune is used to control dry eye in dogs by stimulating tear production.

Q. How is Optimmune given?

A. Optimmune is a thick ointment which is applied directly to the surface of the eye twice daily.

Q. How long will my pet need to be on Optimmune?

A. 90% of dogs with dry eye will need to be on lifelong treatment.

Q. When will I see the Optimmune starting to work?

A. Optimmune will usually start to improve the inflammation in the eyes in around a fortnight but may take up to 6 weeks

Q. What side effects might I see when starting treatment with Optimmune?

A. You may notice an irritation of the eyes in the first week or so and if this persists the treatment may need to be stopped.

Q. My pet’s eyes seem much better since starting treatment, should I reduce the dose now?

A. No, you should not change the dose of a medication without checking with your vet.

Q. My pets eyes suddenly seem to be getting worse again, should I increase the amount of Optimmune I’m giving?

A. No. There may be another reason for the deterioration such as infection so you should recheck with your vet.  

Q. Can Optimmune be combined with other eye medications?

A. Yes, Optimmune can be combined with other drops which can aid in the control of dry eye but you should not add in any medications without checking with the vet. 


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