The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Note that this is not a comprehensive list. Your physician may prescribe a medication that is not on this list. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor and according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Some medications can cause side effects that are medical emergencies, such as difficulty breathing. If you have a medical emergency, call for an ambulance immediately.
Eye drops or oral medications are often used to help control glaucoma. Both methods attempt to decrease the intraocular pressure by either slowing the production of fluid in the eye or by improving the drainage of fluid from the eye.
Adrenergic Agents Epinephrine (Epifrin, Eppy/N, Glaucon, Epinal, Epitrate )Dipivefrin (Propine)Apraclonidine
Beta-blockers Timolol maleate (Istalol, Timoptic XE, Timoptic, Ocudose, Timolol Gel)Timolol hemihydrate (Betimol)Levobunolol (Betagan)Metipranolol (OptiPranolol)Carteolol (Ocupress)Betaxolol
Prostaglandin analogs Bimatoprost (Lumigan)Latanoprost (Xalatan)Travoprost (Travatan)
Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors Dorzolamide (Trusopt)Dichlorphenamide (Azopt)
Miotics (Parasympathomimetic agents)
Pilocarpine (Isopto Carpine, Pilocar, Pilagan, Ocusert, Pilopine )Carbachol/CarbamylcholineEchothiophate iodide (Phospholine Iodide)Physostigmine
(Eserine ointment, Isopto Eserine)Demecarium bromide
It is imperative that you take your eye drops exactly as prescribed in order to best control your glaucoma. Eye drops can interact with other medications. Make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications or supplements that you are taking.
Common names include: Timolol
maleate (Istalol, Timoptic XE, Timoptic, Ocudose, Timolol Gel)Timolol hemihydrate (Betimol)Levobunolol
Beta-blockers work to lower the intraocular pressure by decreasing the rate at which fluid is produced in the eye.
Possible side effects include, but are not limited to: Corneal toxicityAllergic reactionHeart failureNarrowing of the breathing tubes in the lungsSlow heart beatDepressionImpotence
Prostaglandin analogs reduce pressure in the eye by increasing the outward flow of fluid from the eye.
Possible side effects include, but are not limited to: Fluid buildup around the macula of the eye causing swellingConjunctival hyperemia (red eyes)Increased eyelash growthDarkening of skin around eyelidsDarkening of the iris (the colored part of the eye)Inflammation of the uvea of the eyeActivation of herpes virus
Common names include: Dorzolamide
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors inhibit the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, which results in a reduction of the production of fluid in the eye. Oral forms are usually only used in emergent situations, such as in an angle-closure attack. They are contraindicated with history of sulfa allergy and should be used with caution in patients with certain medical problems such as blood disorders or liver disease. They are also contraindicated in patients with sickle cell. Blood cell counts are often monitored regularly while taking these drugs.
Possible side effects of topical medications include, but are not limited to: Metallic tasteAllergic reactionSwelling of the cornea
Possible side effects of oral medications include, but are not limited to:
Skin condition called
, the appearance of dark lesions on the skin
Kidney stonesDepression, fatigue, and lethargy
Abnormal lab tests:
Abnormal blood electrolytes (especially potassium)Abnormal blood cell count (red or white blood cells or platelets)Metallic taste
Common names include: PilocarpineCarbacholEchothiophate
Miotics increase fluid drainage out of the eye by helping to open the drainage network. Miotics also reduce the size of the pupil. Miotics may cause adverse drug interactions with certain anesthetic agents.
Possible side effects include, but are not limited to: Eye irritationTearingHeadacheBlurred visionPoor vision in dim light
In recent years, some states have approved the use of medical marijuana for certain chronic health conditions. Although medical marijuana does relieve intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma, it is only for a short period of time. Currently, medical marijuana is not recommended for glaucoma treatment. Evidence supports the use of prescription medications and surgery as effective treatment options.
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions: Take them as directed—not more, not less, not at a different time.Do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.Don’t share them with anyone else.Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your doctor.If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over the counter or herbal, be sure to check with a doctor or pharmacist about drug interactions.Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.Check the expiration date.Let your doctor know if you take any other medications or supplements. This includes vitamins and herbal remedies.For most eyedrops, only one drop is necessary at each recommended time interval. Placing two or more drops at one time is usually a waste of medicine. Ask your doctor how many drops you need to place.
If you have side effects or an allergic reaction to a medication
(stop taking the medication and call your doctor immediately)If you begin taking any new vitamins, herbal supplements, or another medication, whether prescribed or over the counter
Facts about glaucoma.
National Eye Institute
website. Available at:
http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.asp. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Glaucoma treatment. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at:
http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/glaucoma-treatment.cfm. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Marijuana and glaucoma: Separating fact from fiction. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at:
http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/medical-marijuana-glaucoma-treament.cfm. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Open-angle glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated June 6, 2013. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Weinreb RN, Khaw PT. Primary open-angle glaucoma.
What is glaucoma? Glaucoma Research Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma. Accessed July 16, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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