Glaucoma is an eye condition that is characterized by increased intraocular pressure that can even lead to impaired vision in the absence of prompt treatment. Administering eye drops that are specifically meant for glaucoma can help in treating this eye condition.
The term ‘glaucoma’ refers to a group of eye conditions that could cause damage to the optic nerve, which in turn can put one at a risk of impaired vision. The risk factors for this condition include nearsightedness, eye injuries, inflammatory eye conditions, diabetes, hypothyroidism, family history, and prolonged use of corticosteroids. Abnormally high intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye is main contributing factor.
Our eyes contain a liquid called aqueous humor that keeps the eye pressure under control and also carries nutrients to our eyes. When the IOP becomes high, it results in improper functioning of drain canals in the eye. Under such circumstances, excess aqueous humor might get filled up in the eye. This can cause serious damage to the optic nerve.
Since the optic nerve carries the images to the brain, the damage in the nerve fibers may lead to development of small blind spots in the peripheral vision. Complete loss of vision could occur in the event of persistently high IOP that destroys the entire optic nerve.
Headaches, photosensitivity, eye pain, blurred vision, nausea/vomiting, or halos around lights are some of the symptoms of this condition. Individuals who have high IOP need to administer eye drops that help lower the eye pressure, thereby lowering the risk of impaired vision or tunnel vision. It is extremely essential to administer the drops as prescribed by the ophthalmologist.
Chronic glaucoma could develop with aging, but even infants and children could be affected by this eye condition. Primary congenital type appears soon after birth and it has visible symptoms like cloudiness of cornea, tearing, and photosensitivity. Though this condition is rare in children, they could develop it, if it runs in the family. Other types include normal tension, open-angle, closed-angle (acute), and secondary glaucoma.
The use of medicated drops emerges as the most commonly used method for treating this condition. These eye drops assist in better drainage of aqueous humor and thereby, lower IOP and give protection against damage to optic nerve. The classification of these eye drops depends on their active ingredient. Eye drops that are prescribed for glaucoma include beta blockers, prostaglandin analogs, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, and alpha agonists.
Beta blockers like Timolol decrease the production of fluid, whereas prostaglandin analogs like Travatan®, Xalatan®, and Lumigan® raise the level of fluid flowing out from the eye. Alpha agonists like Alphagan® P and iopidine® decrease the production of fluid and assist by increasing its drainage as well. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors like Trusopt® work by decreasing the production of intra ocular fluid. In some cases, where patients need more than one drug, combination drugs like Cosopt® might be used. It would be advisable to use only the eye drops prescribed by your ophthalmologist.
How to Instill Eye Drops
First of all, one must use only the drops that have been prescribed by the ophthalmologist. Clean your hands properly before putting the drops. Never let the nozzle or the tip of the dropper touch your eye. While putting the drops, tilt your head backward and gently pull down the area below the lower eyelid.
After the drop falls into the pocket, close your eyes very gently. Don’t shut them tightly or your eyes might not retain any of it. Press on the inner corner using your index finger and thumb for a couple of minutes. If you put more than one drop, it might run out of the eye. Use a soft tissue to wipe your eyes.
Follow the instructions given on the medicine. If you are instilling other eye drops, always keep a gap of at least 10-15 minutes between two drops. If your hands shake, wrap a small towel around the bottle to get a better grip. Instill these eye drops as per the doctor’s advice.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, you might have to administer medicated eye drops daily. If you have been experiencing some side effects, inform the ophthalmologist. Those who are using eye drops with prostaglandin analogs might see changes in eye color and experience symptoms such as blurred vision, redness, burning, itching, and change in eyelid skin.
Side effects of beta blockers include reduced pulse rate, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, reduced sex drive, and depression. Some people taking carbonic anhydrase inhibitors as eye drops, might experience stinging, burning sensation, and discomfort in the eyes. Eye drops with alpha agonists could give rise to allergic reactions, headaches, fatigue, and dryness of mouth and nose.
If you have been experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, inform the doctor. Go for regular eye checkups for monitoring the IOP, and take all the necessary precautions to protect your eyes.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.