A patient with glaucoma has an eye chamber that contains too much fluid. The patient with glaucoma can not see clearly. An effective glaucoma treatment cancels-out the patient’s “pressure problem.” An effective glaucoma treatment diminishes the amount of pressure on the optic nerve.
Eye drops are the most frequently used type of glaucoma treatment. Researchers working in the laboratory of a pharmaceutical company have paved the way for creation of special new eye drops. Those relatively new eye drops can protect the optic nerve, because they regulate the pressure in the eye chamber.
While doctors all agree that present-day eye drops can act as an effective glaucoma treatment, not all doctors recommend to their glaucoma patients the same type of eye drops. Doctors favor different eye drops, drops manufactured in different pharmaceutical plants.
Why are there so many types of eye drops? Can the doctors not agree on the most effective type of glaucoma treatment? How should a glaucoma patient sort through the huge number of available eye drops?
Each of the different eye drops affects a different aspect of the eye biology. Some affect metabolic pathways in the eye, and other affect nerve ends in the eye. Both groups of eye drops elicit effects that are a necessary part of a glaucoma treatment. Both groups can also induce the appearance of side effects.
Not all patients will have the same side effects. Eye drops with beta blockers, for example, have a profound effect on asthmatics. An asthmatic who uses an eye drop with beta blockers could encounter breathing problems.
Some of the patients who use drops with beta blockers have been shown to have an irregular heart rate. Eye drops that affect the adrenergic nerve endings in the eye can also cause unwanted changes in a patient’s heart rate. Obviously any glaucoma patient with a history of heart problems should avoid using drops with either beta blockers or adrenergic agents.
Glaucoma patients who have an extra sensitive stomach might do well to avoid using eye drops with carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. While that inhibitor does reduce the amount of fluid entering the eye chamber, it also affects the digestive system. It can cause the drop user to complain about nausea or a sudden change in his or her taste sensation.
Eye drops with prostaglandin analogs can produce the strangest side effects. Patients using such eye drops have reported changing eye color and the growth of new eyelashes.
While those side effects do not harm the patient, they can certainly cause the eye drop user to feel rather ill at ease. The patient might question the effectiveness of the eye drop treatment.