Medications for Glaucoma

Glaucoma medicine may be in eye drop or pill form. The goal of the medicine is to lower eye pressure by slowing the eye from making fluid or helping it drain better.

Here are the basics about each of these medicines. Only common problems with them are listed.

Prescription Medications

Eye Drops

Adrenergic Agents

  • Apraclonidine
  • Brimonidine

Beta-blockers

  • Timolol maleate
  • Timolol hemihydrate
  • Levobunolol
  • Metipranolol
  • Carteolol
  • Betaxolol

Prostaglandin analogs

  • Bimatoprost
  • Latanoprost
  • Travoprost

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

  • Dorzolamide
  • Brinzolamide

Miotics (Parasympathomimetic agents) (rarely used)

  • Pilocarpine
  • Carbachol/Carbamylcholine
  • Echothiophate iodide

Herbals

Medical marijuana

Eye Drops

Adrenergic Agents

Common names are:

  • Apraclonidine
  • Brimonidine

These medicines lower the amount of fluid in the eye.

Some problems are:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Eye watering or discharge
  • Dry eye
  • Eye redness or burning
  • Problems seeing, such as blurry vision
  • A feeling that something is in the eye
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Redness, burning, or swelling of the skin
  • Feeling very tired

Beta-Blockers

Common names are:

  • Timolol maleate
  • Timolol hemihydrate
  • Levobunolol
  • Metipranolol
  • Carteolol
  • Betaxolol

These medicines work to lower eye pressure by causing the eye to make fluid more slowly.

Some problems are:

Prostaglandin Analogs

  • Bimatoprost
  • Latanoprost
  • Travoprost

These medicines work to lower pressure in the eye by increasing the flow of fluid from the eye.

Some problems are:

  • Fluid buildup and swelling
  • Red eyes
  • Darkening of the skin around the eyelids
  • Darkening of the colored part of the eye

Topical or Oral Medicines

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

Common names are:

  • Dorzolamide
  • Brinzolamide

These medicines work to lower pressure by decreasing the amount of fluid the eye makes. Oral forms are usually only used during a sudden attack. People with sulfa allergies should talk to their doctor before using this medicine. People with some medical problems, such as blood disorders, liver disease, or sickle cell disease should also talk with their doctor about problems that could happen. A person will need regular blood tests while taking these drugs.

Some problems from topical medicines may be:

  • A metal taste in the mouth
  • Allergic reaction
  • Eye swelling

Some problems from oral medicines may be:

Miotics (Cholinergic Agents) (Rarely Used)

Common names are:

  • Pilocarpine
  • Carbachol
  • Echothiophate

These medicines help fluid drain from the eye. They also reduce the size of the pupil. They can cause problems when used with some anesthetic medicines.

Some problems are:

  • Eye irritation
  • Tearing
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Problems seeing in dim light

Herbals

Some states allow residents to use medical marijuana for health problems. Medical marijuana does lower eye pressure, but the effect only lasts for a short time. It is not advised to treat glaucoma.

References:

Angle-closure glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/angle-closure-glaucoma . Updated October 24, 2016. Accessed April 29, 2020.
Does marijuana help treat glaucoma? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/medical-marijuana-glaucoma-treament. Updated June 17, 2019. Accessed April 29, 2020.
Facts about glaucoma. National Eye Institute website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts. Updated March 11, 2020. Accessed April 29, 2020.
Primary open-angle glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/primary-open-angle-glaucoma . Updated February 7, 2020. Accessed April 29, 2020.
Prum BE Jr, Rosenberg LF, et al; American Academy of Ophthalmology. Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Ophthalmology. 2016 Jan;123(1):P41-P111.
What is glaucoma? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 28, 2019. Accessed April 29, 2020.
What is glaucoma? Glaucoma Research Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed April 29, 2020.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 4/29/2020

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