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Glaucoma Drugs: Questions and Answers from Dr. Paul Kaufman

I have developed itchiness and irritation to two different eye drops. Has anyone had allergies to all of the drops available for glaucoma?

Dr. Kaufman: Yes, but it could also be a reaction to the preservatives in the drops. If so, some medications are available without preservatives. Ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Do you need to try each and every medication?

Dr. Kaufman: Yes, in the sense of looking for one that you can tolerate. However, sometimes your doctor may be able to rule out certain drugs based on what he or she knows about you. Your doctor may be able to predict that your pressure may not drop enough or that you are not likely to tolerate a particular medication due to other existing conditions. In such instances, other methods may be employed without trying every medication.

I am 30 years old and was diagnosed with glaucoma when I was 15. I am currently taking Timoptic and Xalatan. Is there any effect of these drugs on fertility or pregnancy?

Dr. Kaufman: None that I know of. However, always check the package insert for information regarding that medication and other conditions, and always ask your physician about your specific situation.

Is it not recommended to take glaucoma medications if you are pregnant or nursing?

Dr. Kaufman: Nursing might be an issue if the drug is absorbed systemically and concentrated in the mother’s milk. Check with your doctor and again, always read the package insert.

Is Xalatan effective when used in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)? [NOTE: NSAIDs are a class of drugs commonly used to treat arthritis.]

Dr. Kaufman: There is no contraindication to the use of NSAIDs and Xalatan in combination. NSAIDs inhibit the formation of prostaglandins (naturally occurring fatty acids that help control many physiological processes), but not the action of prostaglandins already formed. Xalatan is in essense a prostaglandin itself. Therefore, NSAIDs are not expected to alter the ability of Xalatan to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP).

Paul L. Kaufman, MD is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, in Madison, Wisconsin. He is a past President and Executive Vice President of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

Last reviewed on September 29, 2015

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