The front of the eye is filled with fluid called aqueous humor that provides nutrients to nearby tissue. Upon finishing this task, the aqueous humor normally leaves the eye through a series of drainage canals. If the fluid can’t drain as intended, pressure can start to build in the eye. This pressure can lead to a condition called glaucoma.
Drop it like it’s hot
Too much pressure in the eye can begin to damage the vital nerve passageways that send information to the brain. This damage is irreparable, and eye doctors often proscribe eye drops to bring pressure back to a safe level. After assessing a patient’s condition, the healthcare specialist will choose between a few types of eye drops for treatment.
You’re not my type
There are three main categories of eye drops physicians can proscribe to reduce pressure in the eye. Each works in a slightly different way to address excess tension.
What a drain
In most cases, drainage channels for aqueous humor constrict or become partially blocked. Certain medications are designed to help fluid drain from the eye, bringing pressure down to a safe level. The most common types of these drops are prostaglandin analogs and rho kinase inhibitors.
Limited production value
Another method to reduce tension in the eye is to lower the amount of fluid in there. Less fluid puts less stress on other eye components, reducing the risk of damage. These types of drops usually fall into one of two categories: beta blockers or carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.
The best of both worlds
When one method isn’t enough, the eye specialist may suggest drops that work to both reduce fluid production and increase outflow. Alpha agonists can accomplish this, but drops that combine medications from each of the above categories are also available.
What’s this going to cost me?
Name-brand glaucoma drops can reach hundreds of dollars per year for individuals without healthcare insurance. Fortunately, there are many ways to bring costs down. Having the right insurance plan can see out-of-pocket costs drop to a fraction of the base price. Similarly, patients can choose generic alternatives to keep costs even lower. Most physicians will work with patients to find a solution that best treats glaucoma while minimizing costs.
This just might work
Glaucoma drops can be very effective at keeping pressure at safe levels in the affected eye. The key to maximizing effectiveness is to always be compliant with instructions from the doctor. In most cases, glaucoma eye drops need to be used every single day. Some medications require multiple uses per day. Anyone benefitting from these eye drops may be required to continue for months or even years.
That wasn’t supposed to happen
In the event eye drops aren’t working as intended, the ophthalmologist may introduce pills to further combat the disease. Should even more treatment be needed to reduce eye pressure, the doctor may consider a surgical procedure to create new passageways for fluid to drain through.