Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Cholinergics for Glaucoma
Cholinergic medicines are also called miotics. Most of these medicines are given in eyedrop form. Pilocarpine
comes as a gel form (Pilopine).
The eyedrops have green bottle caps.
If you need to use more than one type of eyedrop, you may need to
take each medicine in a certain order. You can use the color of
the bottle cap to help you keep track of each type of
If you are using more than one type of eyedrop, wait 5
minutes between the different eyedrop medicines.
These medicines reduce pressure in the eyes by increasing the
drainage of fluid (aqueous humor) out of the eye through the
Cholinergics can be used to treat
Like beta-blockers, cholinergics can be used
alone or combined with other glaucoma medicines. A combination of medicines
can help control how much fluid is produced in the eye and increase the amount
of fluid that drains out of the eye.
Cholinergic medicines may be used during an episode of
closed-angle glaucoma after the pressure inside the eye
has been reduced.
These medicines lower eye pressure by 20% to 30%.1 They have the strongest effect on the pressure in the
eye during the 2 to 4 hours after medicine is applied. The medicine
continues to work for 4 to 8 hours after use.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Cholinergics are one of the oldest types of medicines used to
treat glaucoma. But because they can cause significant side effects and
because there are other effective medicines to treat glaucoma, cholinergics are not used as frequently as in the past.
If you are going to take any of these medicines, tell your eye doctor about all of the prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements you take. This is especially important if your doctor suggests echothiophate for you. This medicine is known to interact badly with quite a few other medicines.
Echothiophate needs to be stopped several weeks before surgery if a
certain general anesthetic (succinylcholine) is going to be used. Using
echothiophate while receiving this anesthetic could increase the risk of
breathing problems (respiratory paralysis).
If you take echothiophate, avoid breathing in even small amounts of poisons that kill insects and pests. Breathing in these products may increase the effects of your medicine and could be harmful.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Do not use echothiophate if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any of the other medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Gross RL (2009). Current medical management of glaucoma. In M Yanoff, JS Duker, eds., Ophthalmology, 3rd ed., pp. 1220–1226. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.