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Understanding Glaucoma Medications (cont.)

Alpha Agonists

Alpha agonists became available in the 1990s and are used today as third-line drugs, with prostanoids being first line and beta blockers being second line. These include various formulations of brimonidine (Alphagan, Alphagan-P).

Alpha agonists work to both decrease production of fluid and increase drainage. Alphagan P has a purite preservative that breaks down into natural tear components and may be more effective for people who have allergic reactions to preservatives in other eye drops. Brimonidine is currently available in a generic form.

Who should not use these medications:

  • Persons allergic to alpha adrenergic agonists

Use: These drugs are given as eyedrops to the affected eye(s).

Side effects: These eye drops should not be used while wearing contact lenses. Local allergic reactions are common, characterized by redness of the eyes and itching of the eyes. Excessive tearing, eye pain, or lid crusting may occur. Burning, stinging, foreign body sensation (something in the eye), blurred vision, and itching have also been observed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/23/2014

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