Which medications in the drug class Miotic agents (parasympathomimetics) are used in the treatment of Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma (POAG)?

Updated: Mar 16, 2020
  • Author: Kristin Schmid Biggerstaff, MD; Chief Editor: Inci Irak Dersu, MD, MPH  more...
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Miotic agents (parasympathomimetics)

Miotics work by contraction of the ciliary muscle, tightening the trabecular meshwork and allowing increased outflow of aqueous through traditional pathways. Miosis results from action of these drugs on the pupillary sphincter. Adverse effects include brow ache, induced myopia, and decreased vision in low light. These agents are used less commonly today since the advent of newer drugs with fewer adverse effects.

Pilocarpine is one of the more commonly used agents in this class. Less frequently used miotics include phospholine iodide (0.03%, 0.06%, 0.125%, 0.25% qd/bid) and carbachol (0.75%, 1.5%, 3% tid/qid).

Pilocarpine ophthalmic (Isopto Carpine)

A naturally occurring alkaloid, pilocarpine mimics the muscarinic effects of acetylcholine at postganglionic parasympathetic nerves. Directly stimulates cholinergic receptors in the eye, decreasing resistance to aqueous humor outflow.

Instillation frequency and concentration are determined by patient's response. Individuals with heavily pigmented irides may require higher strengths.

If other glaucoma medication also is being used, at bedtime, use gtt at least 5 min before gel.

Patients may be maintained on pilocarpine as long as IOP is controlled and no deterioration in visual fields occurs.

May use alone or in combination with other miotics, beta-adrenergic blocking agents, epinephrine, CAIs, or hyperosmotic agents to decrease IOP. Use with prostaglandin analogs can have a small additive effect.

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