Glaucoma: Medicines to Avoid

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Glaucoma: Medicines to Avoid

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If you have narrow drainage angles and are at risk for closed-angle glaucoma, you may need to avoid medicines that widen (dilate) the pupil, the dark spot in the centre of the eye. Talk with your eye specialist about medicines that you should not take.

The following kinds of medicines may dilate the pupil. Look for these names on the list of ingredients of any medicines you use—both prescription and non-prescription—and check with your doctor before using them again.

  • Antihistamines and decongestants: pseudoephedrine (such as Actifed or Sudafed), diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl), hydroxyzine, and clemastine fumarate (such as Tavist)
  • Asthma medicines: salbutamol (such as Ventolin) and theophylline (such as Uniphyl)
  • Motion sickness medicines: dimephydrinate (such as Gravol)
  • Some medicines used to treat depression (tricyclic antidepressants): Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (such as Elavil), nortriptyline (such as Aventyl), doxepin (such as Sinequan), clomipramine (Anafranil), chlordiazepoxide and amitriptyline, trimipramine (Surmontil), and imipramine (such as Tofranil). But some medicines used to treat depression (such as fluoxetine or Prozac) do not affect the pupils and are safe to take.

Some medicines used to treat glaucoma that decrease the production of the fluid inside the eye (adrenergic medicines) also may cause the pupil to dilate. Your doctor can tell you whether these medicines are safe for you.

Related Information


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised February 24, 2011

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