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Eye Drops for Glaucoma: Medications to Manage Eye Pressure

By David Gross on January 30, 2018


Administering medicated eye dropsGlaucoma may be incurable, but there are many glaucoma treatment options available. These procedures are designed to reduce or stabilize intraocular pressure, preventing further vision loss down the road. Glaucoma patients who come to our Merrillville, IN vision practice typically experience minimal vision loss once treatment is initiated.

Medicated eye drops are the first line of treatment before considering surgery and other more invasive glaucoma treatments. Let's take a moment to consider the different kinds of glaucoma eye drops that are used.

Prostaglandins

Prostaglandins help relax the muscle in a person’s eyes, improving outflow of fluid within the eye and a reduction of intraocular pressure. In many cases, patients only need to take prostaglandins once a day. Prostaglandins are generally the first choice for most glaucoma eye drops.

Some common examples of prostaglandins include:

  • Xalatan
  • Lumigan
  • Travatan Z
  • Rescula

Prostaglandin side effects may include:

  • Eye irritation
  • Change in eye color
  • Curling of the eyelashes

Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers help inhibit fluid production within the eyes, which helps minimize excessive intraocular pressure. At one time, beta-blockers were the go-to glaucoma eye drops. Today, beta-blockers are usually prescribed as a supplement to prostaglandins.

Some common examples of beta-blockers include:

  • Timoptic XE
  • Istalol
  • Betoptic S

Because beta-blockers may reduce a person’s heart rate, these drugs may adversely affect people who suffer from certain heart conditions, respiratory conditions, depression, or diabetes.

Alpha-Adrenergic Agonists

Like beta-blockers, alpha-adrenergic agonists help decrease the production of aqueous humor in the eyes, preventing excessive pressure buildup.

Some common examples of alpha-adrenergic agonists include:

  • Iopidine
  • Alphagan
  • Alphagan-P

Alpha-adrenergic agonists side effects may include:

  • Red or bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Itchy eyes
  • Elevation of the upper eyelid

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors also inhibit production of fluid within a person’s eyes. They are used as a supplement to other kinds of glaucoma medications. In addition to eye drops, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors also come in pill form.

Some common examples of carbonic anhydrase inhibitor eye drops include:

  • Trusopt
  • Azopt

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitor side effects may include:

  • Burning of the eyes
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Red eye
  • Reactions from the eyelids

About half of patients using a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor cease use because of more serious side effects. These severe side effects include:

  • Depression
  • Kidney stones
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of libido
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Tingling in fingers and toes

Parasympathomimetics

Parasympathomimetics help increase the outflow of fluid from the eyes, which relieves buildup of intraocular pressure. Parasympathomimetics are common when treating closed-angle glaucoma given the way these drugs promote drainage.

Parasympathomimetic side effects may include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Poor night vision
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Aches in the brow area

Epinephrine

Epinephrine drugs work by decreasing fluid production within the eyes as well as promoting better drainage. This dual function is unique among the other eye drops we’ve noted above.

Epinephrine side effects may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Conjunctival deposits

Hyperosmotic Agents

Hypersmotic agents are only used once and in cases of emergency. When a person suffers from extremely high intraocular pressure, hypersmotic agents help reduce fluid volume in the eye and prevent optic nerve damage.

What If Eye Drops Are Not Effective?

If eye drops and oral medications have no effect in preventing additional vision loss, we can discuss options for more aggressive glaucoma treatments.

Learn More About Glaucoma Medication

For more information about managing glaucoma and maintaining your vision quality, be sure to contact our team of eye care specialists today. The team at Deen-Gross Eye Centers is here to help you see clearly.

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