As the name implies, Alphagan Eye Drops are eye drops prescribed for use in the eyes. They're used for two primary purposes: to lower pressure in the eye (in the event that pressure has built to a problematic level) and to manage glaucoma. Alphagan Eye Drops contain the active ingredient brimonidine tartrate. This prescription eye medication may be used alone or in conjunction with other eye medications, depending on the nature of the condition being treated.
Brimonidine is part of a class of medications called alpha adrenergic agonists. These drugs work by stimulating alpha receptors on the blood vessels in the eyes, thereby constricting the blood vessels. This has two effects: It speeds up water flow out of the eye while simultaneously decreasing the in-flow of water into the eye chamber. Together, these two mechanisms help reduce pressure that may otherwise occur if too much fluid builds up in the eye.
People with open angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension (aka raised pressure in the eye) may be prescribed Alphagan Eye Drops or generic Brimonidine Tartrate because of these functions. Alphagan Eye Drops will not cure glaucoma but they can assist in the management of the condition. In some cases, people may be prescribed Alphagan drops for just a brief time prior to eye surgery.
Alphagan Eye Drops are used to manage or treat open angle glaucoma and/or ocular hypertension. Both of these conditions are marked by raised pressure in the eye (although not everyone with glaucoma will experience this symptom).
Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve in the eye. It typically occurs when the fluid that normally flows evenly through the eye starts to build up in the eye and cause pressure. Fluid is pumped into the eye by natural bodily processes, but it can start to build up to problematic levels when it flows out of the eye more slowly than it enters the eye. This increases the volume of fluid in the eye, which raises pressure in the eye. That raised pressure, in turn, can cause damage to the back of the eye and even cause eventual sight loss.
Ocular hypertension is similar to glaucoma in that it is characterized by raised pressure in the eye. In the case of ocular hypertension, the front of the eye does not properly drain fluid, which causes fluid and pressure build-up in the eye. While ocular hypertension shares characteristics with glaucoma, it is not the same as glaucoma. (However, it is a risk factor for glaucoma.) Unlike glaucoma, ocular hypertension does not typically cause damage to the optic nerve or lead to vision loss.
Alphagan Eye Drops assist in the management of both of these conditions by decreasing pressure, or intraocular pressure (IOP), in the eye. The effects are strongest approximately two hours after the eye drops are administered and generally last for 12 hours or more.
Prior to using Alphagan Eye Drops, take the following into account:
Alphagan Eye Drops may provoke blurred vision, dizziness, and/or drowsiness. For this reason, it's important to learn whether you experience these side effects prior to driving or operating machinery. Note that alcohol may exacerbate drowsiness caused by this medication.
As with all prescription drugs, there are potential Alphagan side effects. These may include:
More serious side effects may include:
If you experience these or other symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist.