Friday, October 13, 2006

Section 7-B: Topical Glaucoma Medications

In 2006, there are 5 main classes of topical medications for the treatment of glaucoma. Most either lower aqueous production (“aqueous suppressants”) or increase its outflow (“outflow drugs”) (Table 7-1). Some medications may have effect on both. Each class of eye drops can be identified by its cap color (Table 7-2).

Table 7-1

Decrease aqueous fluid production

Increase aqueous fluid outflow

Beta-blockers

Cholinergics

Alpha-adrenergics

Prostaglandin analogs

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors

The choice among the various treatments depends upon a patient’s health and ocular history. Although these medications are administered topically on the eye, they can have both ocular and systemic side effects. As with any medication, allergies or intolerances may develop with continued use. Common signs and symptoms of allergy are redness, itching, burning, and swelling. If any of these develop, the treating doctor should be contacted and may require discontinuing the medication.

Table 7-2: Eye drop cap color according to medication class

Class of Medication

Eye Drop Cap Color

Prostaglandins

Clear/teal

Beta-blockers

Yellow, blue

Alpha-adrenergics

Purple

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors

Orange

Cholinergics

Green



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