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How to get the most benefit from your glaucoma eye medication

Posted Jun 22 2009 11:59pm
From Geriatric Pharmacy Intern Angela M Antuna, PharmD(c)
Palm Beach Atlantic University Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy

Glaucoma is a chronic state in which the optic nerve in the eye is damaged due to increased pressure. Other factors may also attribute to this damage. Patients diagnosed with glaucoma frequently present with mild or no symptoms. This silent condition could slowly rob you of your sight. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, eye medications are available to delay the progression. About 25% to 60% of patients with glaucoma do not stick to their treatment. Treatment does tend to be costly and takes time to show benefit. Patients should be advised on adherence and the proper administration of their glaucoma eye medications. These eye medications help delay damage to the optic nerve by increasing blood flow and decreasing pressure in the eye. Following proper administration is ideal for the delivery of the medication to the eye. The eye contains fluid that could easily wash away the medication. Waiting 1 to 2 minutes with your eyes closed while pressing on your tear duct helps the medication stay on the eye longer. It is also important to wait 5 minutes between applications when applying more than one eye drop because one could wash away the other. The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists has an easy to follow approach to the proper administration of eye medications.
To properly apply eye drop medications follow these steps:
· Wash hands.
· Remove the cap from the medication bottle and place it on a clean, dry surface.
o If the bottle has a separate eyedropper, draw the prescribed amount of solution into the dropper and hold it in an upright position.
o If the unit is self-contained, invert the bottle to apply medication.
· Lean the head back.
· With one hand, pull down the lower eyelid to form a pouch and look up.
· With the other hand, drop the prescribed amount of medication inside the lower eyelid close to the outer corner of the eye. To avoid contamination of the medication, DO NOT let the eyedropper touch the eye or any other surface.
· Close the eye slowly to allow for even distribution of the drops.
· With one finger, compress the tear duct in the inside corner of the eye. Keep the eyes closed for 1 to 2 minutes. DO NOT blink. DO NOT squeeze the eyelids shut, which forces the medicine out of the eye.
· Gently wipe off excess solution in the eye area with sterile cotton or gauze pad.
· Recap the medication bottle.
· Wash hands.
· IMPORTANT: When administering two or more different eye drops at the same time, allow 5 minutes between each application.
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