Glaucoma Eye Drops

Glaucoma Surgery & Treatment

Glaucoma Eye Drops

What are Glaucoma Eye Drops?

Glaucoma causes pressure to build inside the eye, potentially causing damage to the optic nerve. Untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness. Eye drops are commonly used to control glaucoma, and work by preventing the pressure from rising to a level whereby harm is caused.

Anyone who has, or is at risk of developing, glaucoma should have regular consultations with a specialist glaucoma eye doctor to monitor and treat the condition.

You’ll be instructed as to how often to use your glaucoma eye drops—most usually daily. It’s very important to stick precisely to the schedule, as failure to do so can lead to uncontrolled pressure build-up and a resulting loss of vision.

A Combination Glaucoma Treatment: eye drops for the individual

There are a variety of different glaucoma treatment eye drops. Your ophthalmologist will determine the one or the combination necessary to treat your particular condition.

The following gives an overview of the various glaucoma treatment eye drops available:

Alpha Agonists

These work by lowering the pressure within the eye in two different ways: they reduce the amount of fluid the eye produces and increase the drainage of fluid from the eye.

Some people find that they experience side effects when they start using glaucoma eye drops. These often reduce with use but, in some cases, your ophthalmologist might need to tweak the dose or, if side effects are severe, change the eye drops entirely.

The most common side effects of alpha agonist eye drops are:

  • Pain, stinging, and redness when the drops are applied
  • Tearing, itching, and swelling
  • Blurred vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Fast or irregular pulse
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth

Beta Blockers

These help reduce internal eye pressure by reducing the amount of fluid the eye produces. Again, these have possible side effects that may or may not reduce with continued use.

  • Redness, stinging, and pain directly after using the drops
  • Blurred vision
  • A slow or irregular pulse
  • Exacerbation of respiratory conditions, such as emphysema, COPD, and asthma
  • Exacerbation of hypoglycemic incidences in those with diabetes
  • A lowered exercise tolerance
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lowered or altered libido

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

These also act to lower the amount of fluid that the eye produces, so reducing the pressure. You might be given these as in eye drop form or to take as a tablet.

Possible side effects include:

  • Stinging, pain, or redness for a while after the drops are applied
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue and/or a decrease in energy levels
  • Skin rash (more likely in those with an intolerance to sulfa drugs)
  • Nausea and gastrointestinal problems
  • Altered taste perception—especially with carbonated drinks

For those taking oral carbonic anhydrase inhibitors:

  • Tingling sensation around the mouth or the fingers
  • Increase in urination


Miotic eye drops treat glaucoma by making the pupil constrict, so increasing the amount and rate that the fluid drains from the eye.

Possible side effects from Miotic eye drops include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Poor nighttime vision or in low light environments
  • Nearsightedness
  • Headache or aches around the eyes

Rarely, this drug can increase the likelihood of retinal detachment. While unlikely, your ophthalmologist will discuss your risk level. Symptoms of retinal detachment are:

  • A sudden appearance or increase in floaters (spots or lines that appear to ‘float’ within your vision and move when you try to focus on them)
  • Seeing flashing lights
  • A shadow, or dark curtain, intruding from the top or peripheral area of vision

It’s essential to contact your ophthalmologist without delay if any of these symptoms occur.

Prostaglandin Analogs

These lower eye pressure by stimulating the flow of fluid from the eye. Once again, there are some possible side effects:

  • Painful, red, or stinging eyes after applying the drops
  • Blurred vision
  • Grittiness —or feeling like something is in your eye
  • Darkening of the eyelids
  • An increase in growth of the eyelashes—in thickness, number, and length
  • Photophobia
  • Eyes gradually sinking deeper into their sockets, preventing the normal function of the eyelids
  • Aching joints
  • An increase in upper respiratory tract infections

Do Glaucoma Drops Work?

Your ophthalmologist will curate a glaucoma eye drop treatment plan for your condition. This, combined with regular eye checks and monitoring of your blood pressure, will generally have a positive outcome on the disease. In the case of eye drops for glaucoma failing to have the desired effect, your ophthalmologist will discuss other options with you.

Are There Alternatives to Glaucoma Eye Drops?

An alternative to glaucoma eye drops is surgery. There are different types and, if your eye doctor thinks you’re a suitable candidate, these will be discussed with you.

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West Boca Eye Center
9325 Glades Road, Suite 201.
Boca Raton, FL 33434

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