Glaucoma, an eye disease most commonly affecting older people, occurs when the pressure inside the eye becomes too high due to a buildup of fluid inside the eyeball. This can occur as a side effect of some drugs, as a hereditary condition, or for reasons not entirely known. If not detected early and treated right away, it can result in severely impaired vision and even blindness.
The most common and least invasive way to treat glaucoma is through drug therapies that help normalize the pressure of fluid in the eyes. Ophthalmologists will usually try drug therapies first in glaucoma patients, rather than resorting to more drastic and invasive surgical techniques, unless the pressure in the eye is dangerously high and must be relieved immediately.
Medications for treatment of glaucoma work by reducing the production of aqueous humor, which is the fluid that fills the inside of the eyeball, or by causing it to drain more efficiently. Some medications do both at the same time. Glaucoma medications are often used in combination, as they can complement each other for a better overall effect. You should discuss your current medical condition with Dr. Lewis before these medications are prescribed, as some can interact with other medications you might be taking, or exacerbate existing conditions.
Medications for glaucoma fall into several different categories:
- Beta blockers – Reduce fluid production
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors – Reduce fluid production
- Miotic or cholinergic agents – Increase fluid outflow
- Prostaglandin-like compounds – Increase fluid outflow
- Alpha-agonists – Reduce fluid production and increase drainage.
- Epinephrine compounds – Increase fluid outflow.
These medications are usually administered in the form of eyedrops. All can have serious side effects if used in conjunction with certain other medications, or in the presence of pre-existing medical conditions. Discuss this with your eye doctor.
Seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis and having regular tests for glaucoma will greatly increase your chances of discovering any irregularities before the condition becomes serious. If treatment is begun early, long-term damage to your vision can be prevented.
If you have any questions or concerns about glaucoma or treating glaucoma with medication, please contact Dr. Stuart Lewis and Cherry Creek Eye Physicians and Surgeons in Denver, Colorado for more information.