Like many other glaucoma treatments, glaucoma eye drops lower intraocular eye pressure (IOP) to protect the optic nerve. If left untreated, high IOP can damage the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss.
Some glaucoma eye drops lower eye pressure by aiding the drainage of fluid in the eye (intraocular fluid), while others decrease production of fluid. Some eye drops do both. Some enhance the effects of other eye drops, and are prescribed in combination.
Who is a Good Candidate?
When medications are placed in the eye, a small percentage of the active ingredient makes its way into the bloodstream. Depending on your overall health and other medications you may be taking, glaucoma eye drops can aggravate existing medical conditions, such as asthma, and can also interact adversely with common medications, such as Digitalis taken for heart conditions. The doctors at Broberg Eye Care will carefully evaluate your candidacy for glaucoma eye drops.
Types of Glaucoma Eye Drops
Glaucoma medications are either oral or topical (eye drop form). We may change your prescription over time to manage side effects or improve effectiveness of your treatment. There are six types of glaucoma eye drops, each with different purposes:
- Miotics: This medication reduces eye pressure by increasing drainage of fluid.
- Epinephrine: This drug initially decreases the rate of fluid production and then increases its outflow from the eye. Later, it further increases the outflow.
- Beta blockers: Used in a variety of glaucoma eye drops, this class of medication decreases production of intraocular fluid. It is often used in combination with prostaglandins.
- Prostaglandins: These medications increase the outflow of fluid from the eye through a secondary drainage route. In general, these eye drops relax the interior muscles of the eye, which reduces the buildup of eye pressure.
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (CAIs): Available in both eye drop and pill form, these medications reduce eye pressure by decreasing the body’s production of intraocular fluid, and improving blood flow in the retina and optic nerve. They are often used in combination with other glaucoma eye drops, and when other medications are not working.
- Alpha-adrenergic agonists: When used as the active ingredient in eye drops, these medications both reduce the production of eye fluid and increase its drainage.
Using Glaucoma Eye Drops
It is important to use glaucoma eye drops exactly as prescribed. Eye drops are fairly simple to administer, but some patients have trouble remembering to take them. If you are prescribed daily eye drops, it may be helpful to coordinate using them with a regular activity, such as brushing your teeth. You may also find it helpful to set an alarm on a watch, clock, or cell phone as a reminder.
Some patients find it difficult to use eye drops, because of unsteady hands or problems holding the bottle. There are a variety of ways to make using the drops easier, such as wrapping a paper towel around the bottle for better grip, or resting your hand on your face while putting the drops into the side of your eye. Our supportive staff can help if you are finding it difficult to use your eye drops.