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A Journal on Ophthalmology
Minerva Oftalmologica 2002 June;44(2):103-6
Maximal medical therapy for glaucoma: know when to say when
Singh K., Fechtner R. D.
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A decade ago, maximal medical therapy generally consisted of three classes of glaucoma medications. With the introduction of prostaglandin derivatives, selective alpha-adrenergic agonists and topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors we have many more choices with regard to adjunctive medical therapy. The availability of so many classes of IOP lowering medications and several agents in each class have made it impractical to try every agent prior to giving up on medical therapy and moving on to surgical alternatives. Since the magnitude of expected IOP lowering is dependant, in part, on the level of IOP prior to treatment, one generally sees diminishing returns when adding medications on top of others that have already lowered IOP. Some of the other problems associated with the use of multiple glaucoma medications include the difficulty in detecting tachyphylaxis, increased fluctuation in IOP, preservative related ocular toxicity, other ocular and systemic side effects as well as cost. Most glaucoma patients should be treated with the one or two glaucoma medications that are most likely to adequately lower IOP with minimal side effects. While the addition of a third agent is sometimes warranted, it rarely makes sense to treat a patient with four or more glaucoma medications simultaneously. Non medical therapeutic options should be considered in such patients.