Glaucoma Medications

A man reaching for tissues

Eye drops can be used to effectively help maintain the pressure in your eye at a healthy level and are an important part of the treatment routine for most people with glaucoma. A variety of glaucoma eye drops are now available by prescription that either increase the drainage of the aqueous humor or slow its production. Sometimes a combination of eye drops is prescribed to obtain best results.

Most glaucoma patients are prescribed single eye drop medications to lower the pressure inside their eyes. Reducing the intraocular pressure slows down the gradual damage to their vision, but cannot cure the disease. When single eye drop medications fail to control the intraocular pressure, the patient must either try to juggle two types of prescription eye drops or consider either laser treatment or traditional surgery.

A new method to treat glaucoma is a dissolvable slow release injectable implant that has been shown in clinical studies to reduce or eliminate the need for medicated eye drops for 15 weeks.


We are dedicated to providing our patients the best care possible; however, managing glaucoma is a partnership between you and our practice. It is critical that you take your medication(s) as directed and commit to keeping your follow-up appointments.

We have provided instructions and demonstrated how to properly use your eye drops. These medication instructions supply further clarification and tips on how to remember to take your medication. During your next visit to our office you may want to bring your medication(s) so you can verify you are taking the correct medicine at the correct times. We also encourage you to write down any questions you have so they can be discussed.

Senior woman receiving eye drops


  • Always take your eye drops at the same time every day (or as recommended by your doctor). However, if you are late, go ahead and take them.
  • Associate taking your eye drops with other daily routines you have established for yourself, such as brushing your teeth or before going to bed.
  • Keep your eye drops in the same place in your home so you don’t misplace the bottle.
  • Ask a friend or family member to remind you to take your drops. Each day, they can ask, “Did you remember your eye drops today?”


Most medications have some side effects. As a patient, it is in your best interest to carefully observe any side effects that you may be experiencing from your medications, and report them to your doctor. If the side effects are causing problems that are not acceptable or tolerable to you, a different medication may be prescribed.

If your medication is not effective in lowering your intraocular pressure, it is important for the doctor to know whether:

  • It is because you are not using the medication as it was prescribed, or
  • The medication simply is not working for you, even though you are taking it as prescribed.

If your intraocular pressure is not lower by your next visit, the doctor may consider changing your medication, performing a laser treatment or adding a second medication to your treatment plan in an effort to lower your intraocular pressure.

It is very important for you to be quite clear with your doctor and let him or her know if you have not been using your medication as prescribed because of undesirable side effects, lifestyle issues, financial issues, forgetfulness or other issues that prevent you from following your treatment plan.


It is important to apply your eye drops correctly, otherwise you may put in too much, too little, or even none at all. Put in too much and the chances of side effects are increased and you are wasting money. Put in too little, and your glaucoma may not be effectively controlled.

Most patients put in their own eye drops, although some prefer to have help. If you want to put in the drops yourself, follow the steps below:

  • First, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You can put in the drops in any position you find comfortable—standing, sitting or lying down. Lying down usually is the easiest.
  • Hold the bottle directly over the eye. Gently pull down your lower lid with your index finger to form a “pocket.” Then squeeze the bottle until a drop falls into the eye. (Note: If you are using Xalatan, do not squeeze the bottle.) Place only one drop at a time in the eye.
  • Close your eye gently. Do not blink rapidly since this will “pump” most of the drop out of your eye before it has had a chance to be absorbed. Don’t squeeze your lids as they will squeeze the drop out.
  • Repeat the previous steps in the other eye. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the eye drop, keep your eye closed for about three minutes after the drops are put in your eyes.

If you need to apply two different drops, wait at least five minutes after putting in the first one to make sure that the medication has been absorbed into the eye.


Keep a log of how long the eye drops last so you can make sure to get a refill before running out. If you put more than one drop in they won’t last as long. Once you know how long your medication should last, mark your calendar to refill your prescription one week before you expect to run out. If you use a mail order prescription refill system, reorder when opening your last bottle as it may take several weeks for delivery.


If you use drops in both eyes once a day:

  • A 2.5 ml bottle should last about a month.
  • A 5.0 ml bottle should last approximately 60 days.
  • A 7.5 ml bottle may last 90 days.

YES, your medication IS that important!

Glaucoma, sometimes referred to as the “silent thief of sight,” typically causes no pain and produces no symptoms. For this reason, people may become careless about strict use of their eye drops that can control eye pressure and help prevent permanent eye damage. Left untreated, glaucoma often progresses until the optic nerve is irreversibly damaged with varying degrees of permanent vision loss. Non-compliance with a program of prescribed glaucoma medication is a major reason for blindness resulting from glaucoma.