Headache can be a troublesome side-effect when you first start using pilocarpine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller.
Keep your regular appointments with your doctor or clinic so that your progress can be checked.
About pilocarpine eye drops
|Type of medicine||Miotic (makes the pupil of your eye smaller)|
|Also called||Minims® Pilocarpine|
|Available as||Eye drops|
Pilocarpine eye drops are used for glaucoma. They are most commonly used for acute angle-closure glaucoma (AACG). This occurs when the pressure inside your eye gets too high very quickly. AACG is sometimes referred to as acute closed angle glaucoma or acute glaucoma. It must be treated straightaway.
This type of glaucoma is caused by a sudden blockage in your eye, which prevents fluid from draining out of your eye. As more fluid is still being made in your eye, the pressure inside your eye starts to rise quickly. This causes pain and redness, and your vision may be affected. Pilocarpine works by causing your pupil to constrict which opens up the drainage channels in your eye. This allows the fluid to leave your eye and relieves the pressure.
There are other types of glaucoma which occur more gradually, but pilocarpine is not commonly used for the treatment of these.
Before using pilocarpine eye drops
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using pilocarpine drops it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have heart problems, or high or low blood pressure.
- If you have asthma, epilepsy or Parkinson's disease.
- If you have a problem with your digestive system such as an ulcer or spasms.
- If you have an overactive thyroid.
- If you have been experiencing difficulty passing urine.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to use pilocarpine eye drops
- Wash your hands well before you use the drops.
- Remove the outer cap (or open the single-dose unit by twisting off the tip).
- Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye out to form a pocket.
- Hold the bottle/unit upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
- Apply enough pressure to release one drop into your eye.
- Close your eye for a minute or two, and press gently on the side of your nose where the corner of your eye meets your nose. This helps to stop the drop from draining away and keeps it in your eye.
- Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been told to use the drops in both eyes.
- Replace the cap (or throw away the single-dose unit).
Getting the most from your treatment
- Before you start using these drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet. It will give you more information about pilocarpine and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from using the drops.
- Use the drops exactly as your doctor has told you They are commonly used up to four times a day, although you may need to use them more regularly to begin with. Your doctor will tell you what dose is right for you.
- Take care not to touch the tip of the dropper or opened unit with your eye, fingers, or any other surface. This is to prevent the drops from becoming contaminated.
- If you are using any other eye drops, leave about ten minutes between applying each one.
- Do not wear soft contact lenses while you are using these drops. If you usually wear lenses, speak with your doctor about this.
Can pilocarpine eye drops cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, pilocarpine eye drops can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common pilocarpine drops side-effects
||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Headache or brow ache||This can be troublesome during the first few weeks. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Blurred vision and difficulty seeing in poor lighting||Do not drive or use tools or machines if you cannot see clearly|
|A feeling of burning, itching, or smarting||This should not last long|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store pilocarpine eye drops
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Once a bottle of eye drops has been opened, it may be used for up to four weeks only. After this time you will need a fresh supply.
- Single-dose units should be used immediately the unit is opened. Do not store or re-use opened units for subsequent doses. This is because the units do not contain any preservative.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking or using.
Never use more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that someone might have swallowed some of this preparation, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Minims® Pilocarpine Nitrate 2% w/v, Eye drops solution; Bausch & Lomb UK Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2007.
- British National Formulary; 64th Edition (Sep 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London (links to current BNF)
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Hannah Gronow|
|Last Checked: 31/10/2012||Document ID: 3290 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.