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Glaucoma Medications to Avoid: What You Need to Know

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Written by- Gina Walters
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Glaucoma is a serious eye condition affecting millions of people worldwide. 

It is caused by an increased pressure inside the eye, which, if left untreated, might harm the optic nerve.

This, in turn, may lead to irreversible vision loss.

Although many Glaucoma treatment options are available, including medications, it’s essential to know that certain medications can worsen the situation. 

In this article, we will explore the Glaucoma medications to avoid and ways to protect your eye health.

Glaucoma medications to avoid

People with Glaucoma should be cautious before taking any medicines that could worsen their symptoms.

Some over-the-counter and prescription medications may make you more susceptible to Glaucoma or may worsen your condition if you already suffer from Glaucoma.

Several medications also include Glaucoma warning labels. 

This is because a wide range of medications can raise eye pressure

There are several medications that should be avoided if you have Glaucoma to reduce the risk of any potential side effects.

Open-Angle Glaucoma and Angle-Closure Glaucoma are the two major types of Glaucoma.

Both forms of Glaucoma have different causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Medications are generally used as the first line of treatment for both Open-Angle Glaucoma and Angle-Closure Glaucoma.

However, some forms of Glaucoma may respond well to medication, while others may not.

Hence, it’s essential to know the type of Glaucoma you have.

Want to know more about the side effects of Glaucoma eye drops? Read our article: Glaucoma Eye Drops Side Effects: What You Need to Know

Medications to avoid in Open-Angle Glaucoma

Measuring eye pressure (orally or injected steroids can increase eye pressure)Source: RossHelen
Measuring eye pressure (orally or injected steroids can increase eye pressure)

People with Open-Angle Glaucoma should avoid taking steroids.

Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common form of Glaucoma, characterized by high eye pressure. It progresses slowly, usually without any symptoms in its early stages. 

Oral steroids have the potential to dangerously raise your eye pressure if you have Open-Angle Glaucoma. 

These medications are frequently used to treat autoimmune illnesses, joint and muscle problems, allergies, and Asthma.

Open-Angle Glaucoma symptoms can worsen if steroids are used in large amounts or for an extended time.

Hence, steroids should be avoided entirely or taken for short periods only if needed. 

The most dangerous steroids are those that are administered closest to the eyes. 

Medication administered orally or injected into the muscles enters the eye through the bloodstream. 

This, in turn, can increase your eye pressure.

However, steroid inhalers and skin lotions can also be dangerous. 

Steroids injected into joints by an orthopedist are usually less dangerous than steroids applied on or around the face or inhaled through the mouth or nose.

Thus, if you use steroids, make sure your ophthalmologist is aware of it.

Explore about the various symptoms of Glaucoma with our article: Understanding Glaucoma Symptoms: Signs of Silent Vision Loss

Suggestion:
Consult your doctor while using any medications if you have Glaucoma, as certain medications may make your condition worse.

Medications to avoid in Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Angle-Closure Glaucoma, also called Narrow-Angle Glaucoma, is the second most prevalent kind of Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is generally hereditary and occurs due to excessively small angles in the channel through which aqueous fluid usually drains out. 

When you have Angle-Closure Glaucoma, you should avoid taking any medications that cause your pupil to dilate. 

Most medications that may worsen or increase the risk of getting Angle-Closure Glaucoma or may also shrink your eye’s trabecular meshwork(drainage angle). 

As a result, it leads to an improper release of eye fluid, raising intraocular pressure, and eventually leading to vision loss.

Medications, such as Anticholinergics, Ephedrine-Containing medicines, and Sulfonamide-Containing medications, should be avoided if you have Angle-Closure Glaucoma.

This is because these medications can potentially worsen Glaucoma, leading to severe health complications.

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  • Anticholinergic medications: These medications can negatively impact people with Angle-Closure Glaucoma. 

    These medications are used to treat conditions like Asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), gastrointestinal issues, muscle spasms, and allergies.

    Anticholinergic medications inhibit the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

    Anticholinergic medicines like Benzodiazepines, Tricyclic Antidepressants, and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors such as Paroxetine and Fluoxetine are known to induce Angle-Closure Glaucoma.  

    These medications work by selectively blocking the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine from attaching to its receptor in nerve cells.  

    In people with narrow drainage angles, this can develop Angle-Closure Glaucoma through dilation of the pupil and blockage of the drainage of the fluid. 
  • Medicines Including Ephedrine: Patients with narrow angles may experience sudden Angle-Closure Glaucoma after using Ephedrine-containing medicines.

    Certain cold remedies that help with congestion contain Ephedrine.
  • Medicines containing Sulfonamide: Some persons, frequently in both eyes, may develop Angle-Closure Glaucoma due to Sulfonamide-containing medications. 

    This is due to the possibility of an adverse response to the sulfa medication in the patients. Medications that include Sulfonamides include Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole, Quinine, Acetazolamide, and Topiramate.
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Alternative ways to manage Glaucoma

Avoid SmokingSource: Rattankun_Thongbun_from_Getty_Images
Avoid smoking to control Glaucoma

Apart from avoiding some medicines and seeking alternative therapies, you may take further steps to manage your Glaucoma and protect the health of your eyes.

For Glaucoma to be properly managed, a routine eye examination is necessary.

Your eye doctor can monitor your condition and adjust your treatment plan as necessary.

They could suggest using a home tonometer to measure your intraocular pressure.

To manage Glaucoma effectively, Glaucoma patients should take prescription medications as directed, use eye drops on a regular basis, and attend follow-up appointments.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may also help with Glaucoma control.

These include maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.

Warning:
Overuse of steroids may result in an irreversible blockage of the eye’s drainage system, leading to Glaucoma.

Conclusion

Glaucoma is an eye condition that can lead to vision loss if left untreated.

Although medications are the first line of treatment for Glaucoma, it is essential to avoid certain medications that may worsen the condition.

However, it is essential to know what type of Glaucoma you have to know what Glaucoma medications to avoid.

Steroids are the medications that must be avoided if you have Open-Angle Glaucoma.

On the other hand, people with Angle-Closure Glaucoma should avoid Anticholinergics, Ephedrine-containing medicines, and Sulfonamide-containing medications.

Besides medications and surgery, you may effectively control your Glaucoma and maintain the health of your eyes by following a treatment plan and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Before starting or discontinuing any medication, it is essential to consult a healthcare expert for the best treatment of Glaucoma.

Frequently Asked Questions

What medications increase eye pressure?

Steroids used to treat various autoimmune and inflammatory conditions are known to increase eye pressure.

Taking steroids in any form can worsen the condition. 

What is the safest medicine for Glaucoma?

Beta-blockers and Prostaglandin analogs like Bimatoprost and Latanoprost are generally considered safe for Glaucoma.

What are the most advanced Glaucoma therapies available?

Nanomedicine is the most recent treatment that can cure Glaucoma.

By using nano delivery systems (such as nanoparticles, nanosuspensions, nanodiamonds, liposomes, etc.), nanomedicine offers prolonged release and greater bioavailability compared to topical eye drops.

Can one consume Paracetamol in Glaucoma?

Yes, one can take Paracetamol while having Glaucoma.

According to one study, Paracetamol can aid in overcoming Open-angle Glaucoma.

Which medicines to avoid if you have Angle-Closure Glaucoma?

Tricyclic antidepressants, decongestants, antihistamines, medications for motion sickness, and Asthma medications should be avoided if you have Angle-Closure Glaucoma.

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