Glaucoma Medication: Side Effects and Effectiveness By Monterey County Eye Associates on October 12, 2022

woman holds a white, round pill to her mouth Glaucoma is a term used to refer to a group of eye conditions that apply pressure to the optic nerve. Over time, excess pressure damages the optic nerve, resulting in vision problems, pain, and, potentially, complete blindness. Fortunately, glaucoma medications can reduce optic nerve pressure to alleviate discomfort and prevent worsening symptoms.

With locations in Monterey, Salinas, and King City, CA, Monterey County Eye Associates is here to help patients get the relief they need with comprehensive glaucoma treatments and effective medications. 

In this post, our team of skilled professionals explores glaucoma medicationside effects, and its relative effectiveness. Patients can use this information to make the best choice for their vision, health, and lifestyle. 

Glaucoma Medications

Typically, our ophthalmologists recommend hypotensive eye drops to treat glaucoma, such as:

  • Alpha adrenergic agonists (like brimonidine)
  • Beta blockers (like timolol)
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (like dorzolamide and brinzolamide)
  • Prostaglandin analogs (like latanoprost, bimatoprost, and tafluprost)
  • Rho kinase inhibitors (like netarsudil)

In some cases, our doctors may recommend combining oral carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (like acetazolamide and methazolamide) with hypotensive eye drops for optimal results.

Glaucoma Medication Side Effects

Understanding the accompanying side effects of glaucoma medications can help patients choose the right treatment for them. Let’s explore common side effects of the aforementioned glaucoma medications now.

Alpha Adrenergic Agonist Drops

Alpha adrenergic agonist drops reduce ocular fluid production while increasing the rate of drainage. Common side effects may include:

  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat

Beta Blocker Drops

Beta blocker drops work by reducing the production of fluid in and around the eyes. Side effects of beta blocker eye drops include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Mismatched pupil sizes
  • Conjunctiva and iris discoloration
  • Droopy upper eyelids

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitor Drops

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitor eye drops work by reducing the production of intraocular fluid. Side effects of these eye drops can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Headaches

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitor Pills

Oral carbonic anhydrase inhibitors accomplish a similar goal to the drops, but side effects can include:

  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling

Prostaglandin Analog Drops

These eye drops expedite the removal of excess fluid in the eye, which reduces the pressure placed on the optic nerve. Common side effects include:

  • Eyelash changes
  • Pigmentation changes to the eyelids and iris
  • Abnormal hair growth around the eyes (hypertrichosis) 
  • Red and inflamed whites of the eye (conjunctival hyperemia)
  • Fluid build-up in the macula of the retina (cystoid macular edema)

Rho Kinase Inhibitor Drops

Rho kinase inhibitor eye drops increase the rate at which intraocular fluid leaves the eye. Some potential side effects include:

  • Red and inflamed whites of the eye (conjunctival hyperemia)
  • Conjunctival hemorrhages
  • Blurred vision

Glaucoma Medication Effectiveness

The two, most effective types of eye drops used to treat glaucoma are prostaglandin analogs and beta blockers. However, our ophthalmologists may recommend a combination of drops and pills to effectively treat and manage glaucoma.

Regardless of the medication, patients should take their glaucoma medication every day as prescribed, even if symptoms are improving. Failure to adhere to the recommended treatment can lead to complications and rapid vision loss.

Ask Us About Glaucoma Treatment Today

Don’t let glaucoma medication side effects keep you from getting the vision-saving care you need. Request an appointment with the team at Monterey County Eye Associates to see which medications are right for you, or call (831) 424-1150. 

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The team of doctors at Monterey County Eye Associates

Monterey County Eye Associates
Leland H. Rosenblum, MD - MBEC
Eric J. Del Piero, MD

Our team of ophthalmologists provides state-of-the-art eye care using the latest technology. They are proud to be affiliated with: 

  • AAO: American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • ABO: American Board of Ophthalmology

To schedule an appointment, please call us at one of our four ophthalmologist office locations in Monterey, Ryan Ranch, Salinas, and King City, or contact us online.

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