Glaucoma Medication Side Effects

By Gordon Wong, OD on September 30, 2018

A woman getting eye drops for glaucomaRegular eye exams are crucial for the early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the world. It’s the result of increased pressure within the eye damaging the optic nerve. An estimated 3 million Americans live with glaucoma. While the vision loss cannot be reversed, it can be slowed down or stopped with proper care. Initially, this means the use of various medications.

The La Jolla, CA vision specialists at Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry would like to look at some of the common medications used to treat glaucoma and what their side effects are. This should give you an idea about the first line of treatment against this condition that causes of vision loss.

Prostaglandin Analog Eye Drops

Prostaglandin analogs help increase the amount of fluid that drains from the eyes. They also help reduce the pressure within the eyes in the process. Some examples of prostaglandin analogs include Bimatoprost (Lumigan), Latanoprost (Xalatan), Tafluprost (Zioptan), and Travoprost (Travatan Z).

Common side effects of prostaglandin analogs include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Changes in eye color
  • Changes to the eyelid skin
  • Stinging eyes
  • Red eye
  • Itchy eyes

Beta Blockers Eye Drops

Beta blockers help reduce the amount of fluid produced by the eyes. This helps lower the pressure within the eyes. Some examples of beta blockers include Betaxolol (Betoptic) and Timolol (Betimol and Timoptic).

Common side effects of beta blockers include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Breathing issues
  • Slower heart rate
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Alpha-Adrenergic Agonist Eye Drops

Like prostaglandin analogs, alpha-adrenergic agonists help increase fluid drainage from the eyes to reduce intraocular pressure. Some examples of alpha-adrenergic agonists include Apraclonidine (Iopodine) and Brimonidine (Alphagan P).

Common side effects of alpha-adrenergic agonists include:

  • Burning eyes
  • Stinging eyes
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Dry mouth

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitor Eye Drops

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors reduce the amount of fluid production within the eye. They are rarely used compared to the eye drops listed above. Some examples of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors include Brinzolamide (Azopt) and Dorzolamide (Trusopt).

Common side effects of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Stinging eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • Bitter taste

Cholinergic Agent Eye Drops

Cholinergic agents increase the production of fluid in the eye but promote more drainage by making your pupils smaller. These kinds of drugs are rarely used to treat glaucoma. pilocarpine (Carpine and Isopto) is an example of a cholinergic agent.

Side effects of cholinergic agents include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dimmed vision
  • Nearsightedness (myopia)

Oral Medication for Glaucoma

If eye drops are ineffective in treating glaucoma, your doctor may recommend some oral medications. Many of these pills function like carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, reducing intraocular pressure by slowing production of fluid within the eyes. Some examples of oral medications used to treat glaucoma include Acetazolamide (Diamox) and Methazolamide (Neptazane).

Common side effects of oral glaucoma medications include:

  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Problems with memory
  • Frequent urination
  • Tingling sensations in the hands and feet

Contact Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry

For more information about treating and managing glaucoma, be sure to contact our eye care specialists and vision doctors. The entire team at Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry is here to help you. You can reach our office in La Jolla by phone at (858) 454-4699 and our Del Mar office at (858) 755-9465.

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