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Eyes

Our Eyes section contains a range of medications that can be used to treat various eye conditions, including glaucoma, eye infections, eye allergies, dry eyes, also to increase eyelash growth.

The different classes of eye medication are listed on the left of the page and when you click on one of these, the principal brand name products display in the left column and generic alternatives to the right.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. Bimatoprost or the product name, e.g. Lumigan.

Our antihistamines/allergy class of eye medications are used to treat allergic eye condition like conjunctivitis caused by seasonal allergies like hay fever or perennial allergies like allergy to animal dander, to relieve symptoms.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. olopatadine or the product name, e.g. Patanol

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the inner lining of the eyelids and sclera of the eye (white part of the eye). It is caused by an allergic reaction to allergens such as pollen, animal dander or house dust mites with symptoms including swollen red eyes, itching and eye watering.

Antihistamine eye drops

Eye drops containing the antihistamine olopatadine, can be used to relieve symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. Olopatadine works by binding to the H1 receptor on the conjunctival cells in the eye and this blocks the action of histamine, which is released by mast cells during an allergic reaction and is responsible for most of the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.
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Our Dry Eyes class of Eye medications contain products used to help increase tear production in dry eye disorders, caused by reduced or abnormal tear production.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. cyclosporine or the product name, e.g. Restasis.

What are tears?

Tears form a protective film over the surface of the eye and help lubricate the eye surface and clear the eye of any particles of dust or debris. Tears are composed of three distinct layers, an inner mucous layer that allows the tear to stick to the eye, a watery mid layer that provides moisture, oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, and a lipid top layer that provides an oily surface to help prevent evaporation.

The watery middle layer of tears is produced by the lachrymal glands that lie above the eye. The lipid layer is produced by glands in the eyelid. Tears enter the eye through a small opening in the corner of each eye.

What causes dry eye?

Dry eyes can have several causes:
  • Reduced tear production due to inflammation associated with a chronic eye disease called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye disease in which the eye does not produce sufficient tears to cover the cornea and protect the surface of the eye.
  • An abnormality in the composition of tears with insufficient production of the lipid layer, causing more rapid evaporation. This is common as part of the natural aging process.
  • A side effect of some medications, such as isotretinoin and antihistamines.
  • A symptom of certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
  • Infrequent blinking such as when staring at the computer screen.
  • Wearing contact lenses.

Treatments for dry eyes

When tear production is reduced, the eye becomes inflamed and this reduces tear production further. Cyclosporine, a medication that is used systemically to suppress the immune system, also reduces inflammation in the eye and has been found to be effective at increasing natural tear production. Cyclosporine containing eye drops are used to treat dry eye disorders.
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Our Eye Infections class of Eye medications are eye ointments or eye drops containing topical antibiotics that are used to treat infections of the eye like bacterial conjunctivitis and blepharitis.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. chloramphenicol or the product name, e.g. Chlorsig.

Eye infections

The most common bacterial infection of the eye is conjunctivitis, an infection of the conjunctiva, which is the thin membrane lining the eyelid and the visible part of the eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis has symptoms including sore gritty irritation in the eye causing redness and inflammation of the infected eye and eyelid; also with a sticky discharge and crust formation on the eyelids that can make the eyes stick together.

Blepharitis or inflammation of the eyelid can be caused by infection with staphylococcus bacteria. Symptoms include redness, itching, irritation, with a gritty sensation or sense of foreign body in the eye and crust formation at the edge of the eyelids.

A stye is an infection in the sebaceous gland at the base of an eyelash hair follicle on the eyelid. It appears as a small red bump on the outside of the lid and can cause discomfort, swelling of the eyelid, redness, scratchy sensation, burning, drooping eyelid.

Bacterial keratitis is an infection of the cornea (the clear area at the front of the eye over the lens and pupil), usually following a scratch or an injury. This causes inflammation of the cornea and can cause problems with eyesight if not treated.

Antibiotic treatments for the eye

A topical ointment containing the antibiotic chloramphenicol can be used to treat and prevent the spread of infection and is used mainly to treat conjunctivitis.

Fusidic acid is another topical antibiotic that is applied as eye drops that mix with the tears and cover the surface of the eye evenly to prevent blurring of vision. They are used to treat most eye infections.
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Our Eyelash Growth class of Eye medications are used to improve norml eyelash growth and to help treat hypotrichosis, which is abnormal or inadequate eyelash growth.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. bimatoprost or the product name, e.g. Lumigan

What is hypotrichosis?

Hypotrichosis is a condition where hair growth is abnormal and this can affect eyelash growth, resulting in inadequate eyelashes that are not long enough or present in insufficient numbers.

Increasing eyelash growth

Increased eyelash growth can be achieved using a medication originally intended for treating glaucoma. Bimatoprost is a synthetic analogue (mimic) of a naturally occurring chemical called prostaglandin that is thought to increase the length of the active hair growth phase. When applied to the base of the upper eyelashes, bimatoprost stimulates increased eyelash growth resulting in longer, fuller and darker eyelashes.
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Our Glaucoma class of Eye medications are used to treat glaucoma, in which there is a build-up of fluid in the eye, to reduce intraocular pressure that can cause damage to the optic nerve.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. brimonidine or the product name, e.g. Alphagan

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve leading out of the back of the eye to the brain that results in loss of vision, starting with peripheral vision and can lead to total blindness if not treated. It is caused by excessive intraocular pressure (IOP). Normal pressure in the eye is maintained by production of a fluid called aqueous humour by the ciliary bodies, by filtration from the capillaries. This fluid normally drains out of the eye through the spongy tissue called the trabecular network between the cornea and the iris at a steady rate. If the drainage is blocked, more fluid is produce than is drained away and causes a gradual increase in IOP.

Although there are different forms of glaucoma, the most common form is chronic open angle glaucoma that progresses slowly, often without symptoms until already well developed.

Increased IOP is a risk factor for glaucoma, although it is possible to have increased IOP without developing nerve damage and this is know as ocular hypertension.

Medications for glaucoma

Several medications are available to treat glaucoma and prevent its progression, thereby reducing the risk of loss of sight. They are administered as eye drops that work by different mechanisms to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) and restore the balance between the amount of aqueous humour produced and its drainage out of the eye.
These include:
  • Alpha-2 adrenergic agonist like brimonidine, which bind to specific alpha adrenergic receptors on the ciliary bodies of the eye to reduce the amount of aqueous humour produced and also to increase uveoscleral outflow, an alternative drainage route for fluid, back through the ciliary bodies where it is produced.

  • Beta-adrenergic receptor blockers like timolol, which bind to specific beta-adrenergic receptor receptors on the ciliary bodies of the eye and block the stimulation of aqueous humour production, to reduce the amount produced.

  • Prostaglandin analogues like travoprost, an analogue of naturally occurring prostaglandin F2 alpha that increases the uveoscleral outflow of aqueous humour from the eye. Bimatoprost is a synthetic analogue of the naturally occurring prostamide, which is a prostaglandin-like chemical that increases the flow of aqueous humour out of the eye through the trabecular network.

  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors like dorzolamide and acetazolamide, which block the action the carbonic anhydrase enzyme in the ciliary bodies of the eye and this reduces formation of bicarbonate ions and secretion of aqueous humour into the eye.
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Our Inflammation class of Eye medications are used to treat symptoms of eye inflammation, such as conjunctivitis, caused by irritation from chemicals, foreign objects, or allergy but not by infection.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. prednisolone or the product name, e.g. Pred Forte

Inflammation of the eye

Inflammation of the eye can be caused by several factors, including bacterial and viral infection, chemical irritants, foreign body in the eye or an allergic reaction.  The symptoms of inflammation of the eye include itching and burning, or the eyes and eyelids, watery discharge from the eye, a sensation of a foreign body in the eye, redness, swollen eyelids and blurred vision.  These symptoms are caused by the production of chemicals such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes.by inflammatory cells at the site inflammation.  

Steroid treatment

The corticosteroid prednisolone, a synthetic steroid with potent anti-inflammatory properties, is an effective treatment for steroid-responsive inflammation of the eye.  Prednisolone should not be used for inflammation that is caused by an infection, since it weakens the immune system and can cause an infection to become more severe and symptoms may be masked. 
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About the eye

The eye is made up of multiple layers and various structures that control eye pressure, how much light comes into the eye, and how the brain can interpret what we see.

The transparent cornea in front of the eye allows light into the eye through the pupil. It continues as a protective opaque cover called the sclera or white of the eye. Light is regulated by the pigment containing iris that contacts and relaxes in response to light intensity. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane that lines the visible part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.

The lens sits behind the cornea and focuses light on to the retina at the back of the eye, and focus is controlled by ciliary muscles in the ciliary body surrounding the lens. The retina contains specialised structures, the rods and cones, that send nerve impulses to the brain via the optic nerve.

The choroid is the area between the sclera and the retina and contains many small blood vessels or capillaries.
The area between the lens and the cornea is called the anterior chamber of the eye and it is filled with a clear fluid, the aqueous humour that helps control eye pressure. Aqueous humour is produced by the ciliary bodies and drains out of the eye through the spongy tissue called the trabecular network. The balance between fluid production and drainage keeps eye pressure stable.
The inner chamber of the eye is filled with a jelly like substance called the vitreous humour that nourishes the eye and gives the eye its shape.

The lachrymal glands sit above the outer corner of each eye and these make the tears that lubricate the eye, prevent it from drying up and help keep it clean.

Eye conditions and treatments

The eye is a specialised organ and if the fine balance in the eye is disrupted conditions like glaucoma can become a problem. The eye is also prone to irritation, for example if they dry out or in the presence of irritants. Eye infection and allergic reactions can also be a problem. Treatments are available specifically for eye conditions to:
  • reduce allergic reactions that cause itching redness, puffiness and inflammation, for example in response to allergens like pollen
  • increase lubrication for dry eyes
  • treat eye infection with topical antibiotic eye preparations
  • lower intraoccular pressure and reduce risk of glaucoma

Eyelash growth

Products that enhance growth of eyelashes are also available for use in conditions where eyelash growth is abnormal or to enhance normal eyelash growth.
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