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Eye drops for the Treatment of Glaucoma

Eye drops for the Treatment of Glaucoma

Medication classifications are based on the active ingredient. Common types of glaucoma eye drops include:

Alpha Agonists

These medications reduce the production of aqueous humor (eye fluid) and also increase drainage of eye fluids. Side effects include burning of the eyes, dry mouth, headache and drowsiness.

Beta Blockers

Ophthalmic beta-blockers reduce intraocular pressure by decreasing intraocular fluid production. They can produce eye stinging, redness and inflammation. Systemic effects include slow or irregular heart rhythm, shortness or breath and low blood pressure. To limit absorption and reduce systemic side effects, your eye doctor may recommend punctual occlusion, a technique that involves applying one finger of pressure to the inside corner of the eye for 1 to 2 minutes after placing eye drops.

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

Available in pill or eye drop form, these drugs reduce production of eye fluid. Side effects include urinary frequency and tingling of the hands or feet. Eye drops may cause burning or discomfort.


Also called miotic agents, cholinergics are often used in combination with other medications and work by increasing intraocular fluid drainage. They can cause pupil constriction and dim vision.

Prostaglandin Analogs

These newer, “gold standard” eye drop medications increase the outflow of aqueous humor to reduce intraocular pressure. Long-term use (months or years) can produce changes in eye color and eyelash growth.

Combined Medications

These medications offer convenience, and possibly cost savings, by combining more than one medication in a single bottle of eye drops.

To be effective, eye drops must be taken exactly as ordered by your eye doctor. Be sure to never skip doses or alter your treatment regime unless instructed by your ophthalmologist to do so.