Information about Glaucoma Medications, Dosages, Precautions & Side Effects

Some types of glaucoma can be treated safely and effectively with medication and there are several drugs available to treat glaucoma. The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower and maintain intraocular pressure (IOP) levels to prevent optic nerve damage. In most cases, lifelong use of medication is necessary to treat glaucoma.

This information about glaucoma medications is from the Johns Hopkins Medicine's 2011 Vision White Paper. The dosages for these drugs represent an average range for the treatment of glaucoma and the precise effective dose varies from person to person and depends on many factors. If you are taking glaucoma medication, do not make any changes to your medicine without consulting your doctor.

Information about medication side effects is not complete. Every medicine listed may not be associated with all side effects listed. Please carefully read the patient information that accompanies your prescription.

Beta-blockers to Treat Glaucoma

  • AK Beta, Betagan (levobunolol); 1 or 2 eyedrops 1-2x/day
  • Betimol, Istalol, Timoptic, Timoptic-XE (timolol); 1 eyedrop 1-2x/day
  • Betoptic-S (betaxolol); 1 eyedrop 2x/day
  • Ocupress (carteolol); 1 eyedrop 2x/day
  • OptiPranolol (metipranolol); 1 eyedrop 2x/day

Beta-blockers reduce the production of aqueous humor within the eye. Tell your doctor about any medical conditions that you have, including asthma, COPD, heart disease, or diabetes as beta-blocker eyedrops may cause side effects that worsen these conditions. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking other eye medications or other beta-blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin) or propranolol (Inderal).

Call your doctor if you become faint or develop:

  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • slow or irregular heartbeat
  • rapid or strong heartbeat
  • swelling of the feet or legs
  • sudden weight gain
  • vision problems
  • eye pain
  • skin rash
  • swelling in or around the eyes
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • depression

Common side effects associated with beta-blockers to treat glaucoma include eye irritation, double vision, blurred vision, headache, depression, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, and sensitivity to light.

Publication Review By: Susan B. Bressler, M.D., Harry A. Quigley, M.D., Oliver D. Schein, M.D., M.P.H.

Published: 03 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 07 Jan 2015