Glaucoma and dry eye disease are conditions that have correlation but no causation.  Glaucoma does not cause dry eye but these conditions often appear together...  why?

If you are currently using standard glaucoma medications then there is a very good chance that you also have dry eye symptoms of irritated, red scratchy eyes that may tear a lot and feel like something is always in them.

The medications used to treat glaucoma are commonly implemented as a toxic cause mild-to-moderate even severe dry eyes.

The main culprit for this is the preservatives often used in pressure lowering medications.  The greatest ocular surface insult is from the preservative BAK (benzalkonium chloride).  There is a ongoing debate whether BAK increases or decreases effectiveness of pressure lowering agents but is does indeed cause toxic dry eye in many people.

It is not generally the active glaucoma medication that causes dry eyes so what can you do to minimize dry eyes when needing glaucoma medications?

Speak to your eye care professional about:

1] Combination Drops

If you have multiple drops to control your eye pressure, each of these drops may contain a preservative.  You may be able to half the preservative load by using a 2-in-1 combination eye drop that mixes two medications in the same bottle.   

2] Preservative Free / Lower Preservative Drops

Many older pressure lowering drops have preservative free or low-preservative versions.  Note that the prices of these drops are generally more expensive.


3] SLT Laser Treatment

SLT is a laser treatment used to lower intra-ocular pressure.   It is not often used as first line therapy in North America but can significantly delay or reduce the need for pressure control drops.  Our clinic will often recommend SLT for new, younger glaucoma patients due to the many years that they made need to be on pressure lowering therapy.


4] Topical Lubrication

At mEYEspa we are all about providing great clinic-tested lubrication drops.  There are many options to help limit dry eye symptoms.   Remember separate prescription drops from lubrication drops by 20 minutes to not dilute the medication.  Try the mEYEspa product guidance for suggestions.

5] Omega 3's and Warm Compresses

You can effectively help your own body produce better tears with Omega 3 supplementation or Bruder Mask use.

6] IPL/Lipoflow and Rx Immune System Modulating Rx Drops 

These are other methods of helping your body create better tears to discuss with your eye doctor.

Why would glaucoma cause my eyes to be Dry?

 ** nothing in this blog should be interpreted as medical advice.  this is general information only and speak to your eye care provider for advice on your unique situation