How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
This medication is most often used as an eye drop to treat glaucoma, but is sometimes used to treat some other conditions of the eye.
Pilocarpine causes constriction of the pupil of the eye. This enlarges the outflow canal, allowing drainage of excess fluid (aqueous humor) from the eye and causing the pressure inside the eye to drop.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are using this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Pilocarpine by Ivax Pharmaceuticals Incorporated is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under pilcarpine eye drops. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.
How should I use this medication?
For the treatment of glaucoma in adults, the recommended dose of pilocarpine solution drops is 1 to 2 drops instilled into the eyes up to 6 times daily.
The recommended dose of pilocarpine gel is to instill a half-inch-long ribbon into the lower eyelid sac once daily at bedtime.
Your doctor will choose the strength of pilocarpine that is best for you based on the pressure inside your eye.
The following procedure is recommended when using eye drops:
- Wash your hands.
- Tilt your head back and gently pull your lower eyelid away from your eye to make a pouch.
- Drop the medicine into this pouch, then let go of the eyelid and gently close your eyes.
- Do not blink.
- Keep the eyes closed and apply pressure to the inner corner of the eye with your finger for one or two minutes to prevent excessive absorption into the body.
- Wash your hands to remove any medicine that may have gotten on them.
- Do not touch the dropper or the applicator tip to any surface (including the eye).
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not use this medication if you:
- are sensitive or allergic to pilocarpine or any ingredients of this medication
- have acute iritis
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- blurred vision or change in near or far vision
- decrease in night vision
- eye irritation
- headache or browache
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- eye pain
- increased sweating
- muscle tremors
- troubled breathing or wheezing
- watering of mouth
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth or throat, skin blisters, sores or pain in the mouth or eyes)
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Reduced vision: This medication may cause reduced vision especially at night or with reduced lighting. Do not drive or operate machinery until you are familiar with this medication's effects.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if pilocarpine passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. In many cases, interactions are intended or are managed by close monitoring. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.