• Eyedrop Medicine for Glaucoma

    Written By: Kierstan Boyd
    Reviewed By: J Kevin McKinney MD
    Jul. 06, 2018

    Eyedrop medicines are helpful in treating glaucoma.

    Glaucoma is a disease that affects your eye’s optic nerve, possibly leading to blindness. The optic nerve connects your eye to your brain so you can see. Glaucoma usually happens when fluid builds up in the front portion of your eye. Pressure increases in your eye, damaging the optic nerve and eventually stealing your sight.

    Every dose, every day—it can save your sight!

    It is extremely important to use your glaucoma eye drops exactly as your ophthalmologist tells you to. That includes taking every dose, every day. If you do not do this, you may lose vision.

    Also, remember to tell your other doctors which medicines you take for glaucoma. As with any medication, glaucoma eye drops can cause side effects.

    Your ophthalmologist may have you take more than one of the following glaucoma eyedrop medicines.

    Alpha agonists for glaucoma

    Alpha agonists work by reducing the amount of fluid your eye produces. They also increase the amount of fluid that drains out of the eyes. This helps lower eye pressure.

     Possible side effects of alpha agonists include:

    Do not drive or operate machinery if your glaucoma eye drops make you feel tired or drowsy!

    Blurry vision, stinging, and redness may improve with time. But if the side effects still bother you, call your ophthalmologist. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Most side effects go away when the medicine is stopped. Never suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Beta-blockers for glaucoma

    Beta-blockers work by reducing the amount of fluid your eye produces. This helps lower pressure in your eye.

    Possible side effects of beta-blockers include:

    • red, stinging or painful eyes after using drops
    • blurry vision
    • breathing problems in people with asthma, emphysema, or COPD
    • a slow or irregular heartbeat
    • feeling tired
    • depression
    • dizziness
    • a change in sex drive or sexual function
    • getting overly tired during exercise
    • in people with diabetes, low blood sugar symptoms becoming difficult to notice

    Blurry vision, stinging, and redness may improve with time. But if the side effects still bother you, call your ophthalmologist. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Most side effects go away when the medication is stopped. Never suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors for glaucoma

    Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors work by reducing the amount of fluid your eye produces. This helps lower eye pressure.

    Your ophthalmologist may have you take this medicine as an eye drop or by mouth as a pill.

    Possible side effects of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors include:

    • stinging eyes
    • red eyes
    • blurry vision
    • a skin rash (especially in people who are allergic to sulfa drugs)
    • changes in how things taste to you (especially with carbonated drinks)
    • bad taste or upset stomach (nausea)
    • feeling tired
    • decreased energy
    • increase in urination (with the pills)
    • tingling around the mouth and fingertips (with the pills)

    Blurry vision, stinging, and redness may improve with time. But if the side effects still bother you, call your ophthalmologist. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Most side effects go away when the medication is stopped. Never suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Miotics for glaucoma

    Miotics make your pupil constrict (get smaller), increasing the amount of fluid that drains out of the eye. This helps lower eye pressure.

    Possible side effects of miotics include:

    While very rare, there is the possibility that your retina could detach. This is when the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye pulls away. You would suddenly notice dark specks or spots (floaters) or flashing lights in your vision. If you have these symptoms, call your ophthalmologist immediately.

    Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while. But if the side effects still bother you, call your ophthalmologist. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Never suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Prostaglandin analogs for glaucoma

    Prostaglandin analogs work by increasing the drainage of fluid out of your eye. This helps lower eye pressure.

    Possible side effects of prostaglandin analogs include:

    • red, stinging or painful eyes after using drops
    • feeling like something is in your eye
    • blurry vision
    • a permanent change in your eye color (occurs mostly in hazel eyes)
    • an increase in thickness, number and length of eyelashes
    • darkening of the eyelid
    • upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds and flu
    • joint aches
    • light sensitivity
    • eyes gradually sinking deeper into their sockets, keeping eyelids from working properly

    Blurry vision, stinging, and redness may improve with time. But if the side effects still bother you, call your ophthalmologist. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Most side effects go away when the medication is stopped. Never suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.