Prescription medicines to lower the pressure inside
the eye (intraocular pressure, or IOP) are used
to treat all types of
glaucoma. They work either by reducing the amount of
fluid (aqueous humor) that is produced by the eye or by
increasing the amount of fluid that drains out of the eye. These medicines may
be given as eyedrops, as pills, in liquid form by mouth, or through a vein (in emergency
situations). In most cases, eyedrops are used first.
congenital glaucoma, medicines may be used to decrease
the pressure in the eyes and reduce the cloudiness of the clear front surface
(cornea) of the child's eye. Medicines are usually only used until surgery can be done.
When glaucoma has already caused vision loss,
further vision loss may occur even after the pressure in the eye is lowered
to the normal range with medicine. Talk to your doctor about the goals of treatment, how long the
medicine will be tried, and the possible side effects. Eye medicines can cause symptoms throughout the body.
need follow-up visits with your doctor to find out whether your medicine is working as well as it should. You can also discuss any side effects or medicine schedule problems.
In most cases, medicines used to treat glaucoma must be continued daily
for the rest of your life.
Medicines that decrease the amount of fluid produced by
the eye include:
Medicines that increase the amount of fluid that drains
out of the eye include:
Some medicines have two different medicines mixed into
one bottle. Examples include Cosopt, which contains both a carbonic anhydrase
inhibitor and a beta-blocker, and Combigan, which contains both an adrenergic
agonist and a beta-blocker.
About your medicines
- Use your glaucoma medicines as prescribed by your doctor. If you need reminders for using your medicines, use
alarm clocks or watches, notes on mirrors or tables, and other cues.
- Using Medicine as Prescribed
- Learn how to use eyedrops. This can help reduce side effects. If you notice side effects from your glaucoma
medicine, tell your doctor. Your medicine may need to be
- If you have closed-angle glaucoma or you are at risk for it, check with a doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines. You'll need to avoid
medicines that widen (dilate) the pupil, such as certain
antihistamines and motion sickness medicines.
- Make sure all your doctors know that you have glaucoma. Tell your eye specialist
what other prescription medicines you are taking.
- Learn cost-saving tips for glaucoma. For example, use a measured-dose
- Carry a wallet card or other identification that states that you have glaucoma. The card needs to list all medicines you are
taking, including glaucoma medicines.
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
February 28, 2012
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