Side Effects of Glaucoma Medications

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This week’s blog on the Side Effects of Glaucoma Medications has been contributed by Dr Sohaib Mustafa, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Specialist in Glaucoma and Cataract Surgery.
Medication can provide an effective means of controlling glaucoma but there can be a range of side effects. The following are some of the potential side effects of the most commonly prescribed types of glaucoma medications.

  • Prostaglandin Analogues: possible changes in eye colour and eyelid skin tone and texture, stinging eyes, blurred vision, eye redness, itching, burning.
  • Beta Blockers: low blood pressure, reduced pulse rate, fatigue, shortness of breath; and (rarely) reduced libido, depression.
  • Alpha Agonists: burning or stinging sensation in the eye, fatigue, headache, drowsiness, dry mouth and nose, relatively higher likelihood of allergic reaction.
  • Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors:
    • In eye drop form: stinging, burning, eye discomfort.
    • In pill form: tingling hands and feet, fatigue, stomach upset, memory problems, frequent urination.

Side effects of combined medications may include any of the side effects of the drug types they contain.
Mitigation of side effects
Systemic side effects of glaucoma drops can be minimised by closing the eyes following application or using a technique called punctal occlusion (pressing a finger to the inner corner of the eye) that prevents the drug from entering the tear drainage duct and systemic circulation.
Try to use one drop rather than multiple drops. Putting two or three drops of the same medication into the eye at the same time will not increase its effect.
What to do if you are getting side effects?
Report any side effects to your doctor who will either ask you to stop the medication and/or arrange an appointment.