Why Are My Eye Drops so Expensive?

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Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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The most frequently performed outpatient surgery in the United States is cataract surgery. After your cataract procedure, your doctor will prescribe several eye drops with the goal of suppressing inflammation and improving pain. Whether after a cataract or Lasik procedure, or if prescribed for another reason, these drops may cost you an arm and a leg. Here is what you need to know.

Antibiotic eye drops

There are some good affordable generic options now for antibiotic eye drops. While Besivance is an expensive brand name antibiotic eye drop still prescribed, there are cheaper antibiotic eye drops available:

While some eye doctors like the newer brand antibiotic eye drops because they believe there is less antibiotic resistance to the newer drops, many have shifted over to generic options with better cost and higher compliance.

Steroid eye drops

These are given to reduce inflammation after cataract surgery, and this is where the brand name eye drops are going to cost you. Lotemax, Alrex, and Durezol are expensive drops often prescribed. More reasonable priced brand name steroid eye drops are Vexol and Maxidex, but there is a good cheaper option:

NSAID eye drops

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) eye drops can help to reduce swelling, pain, and light sensitivity after cataract surgery. So, adding it to a regimen with steroid eye drops may be better, but it may cost you. Prolensa, Nevanac, and Ilevro are newer expensive options. Good generic options include:

If cost is an issue, ask about the generic NSAID options, but keep in mind that they reportedly sting more and need to be used several times a day as opposed to once daily.

Bottom line? Shop around for generic options and check out prices on GoodRx. Otherwise, these drops are going to cost you.

Dr O.

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