Why Are My Prescription Eye Drops So Expensive? – Here’s How To Save

piggy bank next to medicine bottle
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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Cataract surgery is the most frequently performed eye surgery in the United States. After the procedure, your doctor will prescribe several eye drops for you with the goal of minimizing inflammation and improving pain. Well, those drops may come at a hefty price. Here are tips on how to save.

1) Antibiotic eye drops

Besivance, Vigamox and Zymaxid (gatifloxacin) are antibiotics often prescribed after cataract surgery to prevent infection. Eye doctors may like the newer antibiotic eye drops because they believe there is less antibiotic resistance. Ok, I get that, but a tip here: ask your doctor if he/she can prescribe a generic—like gatifloxacin—so it’s not prohibitively expensive.

2) Steroid eye drops

These are given to reduce inflammation after cataract surgery. There are many options here, some more expensive than others.

Lotemax, Alrex and Durezol are relatively newer and more expensive. Pred Forte (a.k.a. Omnipred), is another steroid drop, and it has a generic option called prednisolone acetate, which is much less expensive than other options. Always price these out. Vexol and Maxidex (dexamethasone) are two other popular steroid eye drops that have a more reasonable price tag.

It’s important to know that steroid eye drops vary in their potency. Pred Forte (prednisolone acetate) drops are used four to five times a day, for example, while Durezol drops are used twice a day as they are more potent.

3) NSAID eye drops

Adding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) eye drops to steroid eye drops improves outcome after cataract surgery, with less swelling, pain and light sensitivity. So the two together are better than each alone.

Prolensa, Nevanac and Ilevro are newer and more expensive options that are supposed to be used once daily. Cheaper generic options include bromfenac (Bromday) and diclofenac sodium drops. If cost is an issue, ask about the generic options. However, they reportedly sting more and need to be used several times a day as opposed to once daily.

Shop around for better prices, generic options and coupons, and ask your doctor for samples. Otherwise, these are going to cost you.

Dr O.

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