Do I Have to Use My Glaucoma Drops Every Day?

Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is one of the major risk factors for glaucomatous damage to the optic nerve. It has now been well established in large clinical studies that reducing IOP slows the progression of glaucoma, even in patients that have normal eye pressure when starting treatment.  Topical glaucoma drops help to reduce eye pressure either by increasing the outflow of aqueous fluid (the fluid within the eye) and/or decreasing the production of aqueous.  Topical drops are typically well tolerated and often are the initial treatment of choice. However, for some patients they can be cumbersome and difficult to apply.  Normally, the eye pressure can fluctuate throughout the day by about 2 to 6 “points” (mmHg). However, studies have shown that in patients with glaucoma this fluctuation can be up to 10 points in a 24 hour period. Topical drops not only help to lower the averaged eye pressure, but when taken regularly can decrease these pressure fluctuations that may lead to progression of glaucoma and vision loss. Thus, it is important to be consistent with taking your topical drops daily.