Dorzolamide is a prescription medication used to treat progressing cases of open-angle glaucoma. It comes in a liquid solution that is administered directly into the eye with a specialized dropper. The medication works by reducing the amount of fluid that is produced in the eye, thereby relieving pressure buildup and reducing the chances of further vision impairment. Dorzolamide may be used in combination with another drug called timolol if a patient suffers from both glaucoma and ocular hypertension. Most patients who use their eye medications as directed by their doctors experience significant symptom relief with few risks of side effects or adverse reactions.
Doctors classify dorzolamide as a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. Carbonic anhydrase is an enzyme that promotes the secretion of eye fluids, which leads to increases in intraocular pressure. Glaucoma patients tend to have very high, poorly regulated intraocular pressure because of excess carbonic anhydrase. Dorzolamide temporarily deactivates carbonic anhydrase enzymes to allow time for excess fluid to drain from the eyes. When the drug is used in conjunction timolol, both intraocular pressure levels and blood pressure levels in the vessels that feed the eyes are decreased.
Most adult patients are instructed to apply one drop of dorzolamide to each eye three times a day. The dropper has a specialized reservoir tip to ensure that the proper amount of medication is supplied for each use. Patients are instructed to tilt their heads back, hold the eyes open, apply drops, and close the eyes for about one minute. If a person is confused about the correct way to use the dropper, the doctor or pharmacist can provide more detailed instructions.
The most common side effects with dorzolamide are temporary burning or itching sensations that occur just after a drop is applied. A person may experience mild redness, irritation, and increased tearing for a few minutes after administering a dose. Longer-lasting side effects are uncommon but may include swelling and redness in the lower eyelid, constant itching, and eye dryness. Rarely, a patient can experience nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, or an allergic reaction that causes skin hives and airway swelling. It is important to seek medical attention if side effects become severe and persistent.
Open-angle glaucoma is usually a lifelong affliction, but patients who use their medications on a regular basis often can manage their symptoms effectively and maintain good vision. If eye problems worsen despite using dorzolamide, a doctor can consider increasing the dosage amount or prescribing a different type of medication. Surgery to relieve eye pressure or improve the eye's ability to drain fluid may be necessary if medical care fails to provide relief.