Eyedrops for glaucoma

My eyes have been diagnosed with narrow-angle, low-pressure chronic glaucoma. Initially, I was prescribed Xalatan (latanoprost) eyedrops once a day. Some time later, I was prescribed brimonidine tartrate eyedrops 0.2 per cent, one drop daily. After a few weeks, the latter caused terrible pain. After some months, I felt very unwell, my eyes were itchy, painful and pink. Eventually, my consultant took me off these drops and I now take AZOPT (brinzolamide) 10 mg/mL twice a day. This gives me no problems.

Nevertheless, my field of vision is deteriorating steadily. Despite pressures down to 10 and 11, an operation has been recommended.

What are the likely side-effects of the eyedrops I am now taking? I have postponed the operation for now, and have started doing yoga for the eyes and cranial osteopathy for my visual nerves. Does anyone know how well this alternative treatment can contain the condition? Under supervision of an alternative therapist, I am also taking various supplements. - IT, Bristol

Latanoprost and brimonidine have become a popular treatment for glaucoma following a study, presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2001, showing that the combination of eye drugs can lower intraocular pressure more effectively that can other drugs, including the beta-blocker timolol, the former ‘gold-standard’ treatment of glaucoma.

AZOPT (brinzolamide), another family of drug, is the latest glaucoma treatment. Ironically, its most common side-effect is blurred vision and a bitter taste in the mouth. Up to one in 20 users complain of eye infection, ocular discomfort, itching, or watery eyes. Your worsening vision may have something to do with your medication, not just your condition.

Osteopathy can help glaucoma, but be wary of yoga positions that involve inversion.

Some of the best treatments include daily doses of 260-480 mg of bilberry, containing the flavonoid anthocyanidin standardised to 25 per cent (Ann Oph Clin Ocul, 1965; 91: 371-86); 40 mg of Ginkgo (24 per cent ginkgoflavonglycosides) three times a day; and Coleus forskohlii root, an Ayurvedic herb. Emphasise high doses of vitamins A and C, rutin and the B vitamins.