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Glaucoma and Eye Drops – Dr Sonya Bennett

The only proven treatment to stop the optic nerve damage getting worse is to lower the pressure in the eye. Glaucoma specialist – Dr Sonya Bennett provides an understanding of how lowering the pressure works, talks broadly about eye drops in a simplified way, and discusses the challenges with eye drop treatment for both the patient and the eye specialist. Dr Bennett also provides insight into what might be on the horizon for glaucoma treatment in this area.



Glaucoma medications come in different strengths and combinations. Doctors try to use the smallest amount of medication that offers you the best results with the fewest side effects. Sometimes several medications that complement each other are necessary to reduce the pressure adequately.

Medications must be taken on a daily, regular basis to control the pressure in your eye. You will need to use the drops and/or pills as long as they help to control your eye pressure. This is very important. Click here for tips about managing your eye drops

Tablets are not very commonly used to treat glaucoma. You are more likely to be prescribed eye drops. Once initiated treatment of glaucoma with eye drops is life-long.

There are different families of glaucoma medications. Within each family there may be more than one member.


Eye Drops: Prostaglandin Analogues

Examples: Xalatan, Travatan, Lumigan
The prostaglandin analogues work by increasing the drainage of aqueous fluid out of the eye thereby decreasing the pressure in the eye. They are the newest family of glaucoma medications to be available. These eye drops are now the most commonly used drug in the developed world for glaucoma. These drugs have very minimal systemic side-effects.

Eye drops: Beta-blockers

Examples: Apo-timopt, Timoptol XE, Betagan, Timolol
These drugs decrease the pressure in the eye primarily by decreasing the production of fluid in the eye. Beta-blockers are used either once or twice a day. They may cause temporary burning or stinging of eyes just after being instilled.

Other types of eye drops include:


'Side effects' of medications

A side effect is any action produced by a drug beyond the intended one of lowering the eye pressure. Some patients have no side effects whatsoever, while others find the side effects so severe they are not able to tolerate the eye drops. A drug may cause side effects in some people and not others.

One of the big challenges faced by glaucoma patients is that of having to take medications to control a disease that is usually painless and has no symptoms. It is important to tell your doctor of any new health problems or concerns that have developed since starting with your eye drops. Your doctor will tell you if it is a known side effect of the drug you are taking. What you should not do is skip taking the medications and lose vision because of side effects.

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