Glaucoma Medicines (Eye Drops) are the First Treatment for Glaucoma in Most Cases
There are several classes of medications used to treat glaucoma. Each patient may have a different medication regimen based on their specific situation. The different classes include:
- Beta Adrenergic Antagonists
- Prostaglandin Analogs
- Adrenergic Agonists
- Cholinergic Agonists
- Hyperosmotic Agents
- Combination Drugs
Each of these classes has a different mechanism of action, different side effects and different contraindications which are outlined in the table below.
The process of developing a drug regimen will begin with setting a target number for the eye pressure in each eye. The target will be based on the severity of the glaucoma and the rate of progression of disease and often will be modified throughout treatment. If the disease is mild, the target should be a 20% reduction in pressure (pressure in high teens); if moderate glaucoma, the target will be a 30-40% reduction in pressure (mid teens pressure) and if severe it should be 50% (low teens pressure).
Usually treatment begins with one drug and additional drugs are added as needed to meet the target intraocular pressure in each eye.
How Long Do I Have to Take Eye Drop Medicine for Glaucoma?
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is a chronic, progressive condition that is controlled but never cured. It almost always worsens even when a patient is on treatment. Every time a dose is missed, the eye pressure can increase causing damage to the optic nerve. This means once a drug regimen is established it must be continued everyday without exception.
Throughout the course of the disease it is possible for the regimen to be changed by adding another medication or even taking one away. However, the drops should never be stopped without instruction from your doctor.
Following the disease will require appointments as often as every month to as little as every six months depending on the severtity and rate of progression of the glaucoma.