Medications to avoid if you have glaucoma

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

The following kinds of medications may dilate the pupil. Look for these names on the list of ingredients of any medications you use—both prescription and nonprescription—and check with your health professional before using them again.

  • Antihistamines and decongestants: Pseudoephedrine (such as Actifed or Sudafed), diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl), hydroxyzine (such as Vistaril), and clemastine fumarate (such as Tavist)
  • Asthma medications: Albuterol (such as Proventil or Ventolin), metaproterenol sulfate (such as Alupent), isoetharine (such as Bronkosol), and theophylline (such as Uniphyl)
  • Motion sickness medications: Scopolamine (such as Transderm-Scop) and dimenhydrinate (such as Dramamine).
  • Some medications used to treat depression (tricyclic antidepressants): Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (such as Pamelor), doxepin (such as Sinequan), clomipramine (Anafranil), amoxapine, chlordiazepoxide and amitriptyline (Limbitrol), trimipramine (Surmontil), and imipramine (such as Tofranil). However, some medications used to treat depression (such as fluoxetine or Prozac) do not affect the pupils and are safe to take.

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

Last Updated: May 23, 2008

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