Generic name: pilocarpine (pye-loe-KAR-peen)
Drug class: Ophthalmic glaucoma agents
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 10, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Isopto Carpine
- Ocusert Pilo
- Minims Pilocarpine 2%
- Minims Pilocarpine 4%
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Direct Acting Miotic
Pharmacologic Class: Cholinergic
Uses for pilocarpine
Pilocarpine is used to treat glaucoma and other eye conditions. Vuity™ eye drops are used to treat presbyopia (age-related eye or vision problem).
Pilocarpine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using pilocarpine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For pilocarpine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to pilocarpine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of pilocarpine in children.
Vuity™ eye drops are not indicated for use in children.
Appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of pilocarpine eye drops have not been performed in the geriatric population. However, geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of pilocarpine in the elderly are not expected.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking pilocarpine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using pilocarpine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of pilocarpine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Asthma or
- Eye disease (eg, retinal problems)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Iritis (swelling of the colored part of the eye)—Use is not recommended in patients with this condition.
Proper use of pilocarpine
Use pilocarpine only as directed by your doctor. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of too much medicine being absorbed into the body and the chance of side effects.
To use the eye drops:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after using pilocarpine.
- Tilt your head back and, pressing your finger gently on the skin just beneath the lower eyelid, pull the eyelid away from the eye to make a space. Drop the medicine into this space.
- Let go of the eyelid and gently close the eye. Do not blink. Keep the eye closed for 1 or 2 minutes to allow the medicine to be absorbed by the eye.
- If you think you did not get the drop of medicine into your eye properly, repeat the process with another drop.
- To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the applicator tip to any surface (including the eye). Also, keep the container tightly closed. Serious damage to the eye and possible loss of vision may result from using contaminated eye medicines.
To use the eye gel:
- First, wash your hands. Tilt the head back and, pressing your finger gently on the skin just beneath the lower eyelid, pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to make a space. Squeeze a thin strip of gel into this space. A 1½-cm (approximately ½-inch) strip of gel is usually enough, unless you have been told by your doctor to use a different amount. Let go of the eyelid and gently close the eyes. Keep the eyes closed for 1 or 2 minutes to allow the medicine to be absorbed by the eye.
- Immediately after using the eye gel, wash your hands to remove any medicine that may be on them.
- To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the applicator tip to any surface (including the eye). After using the eye gel, wipe the tip of the gel tube with a clean tissue and keep the tube tightly closed.
To use the eye insert:
- Pilocarpine usually comes with patient directions. Read them carefully before using pilocarpine.
- If you think pilocarpine unit may be damaged, do not use it. If you have any questions about this, check with your health care professional.
- If the unit seems to be releasing too much medicine into your eye, remove it and replace with a new unit. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.
If you wear contact lenses, take them out before you use pilocarpine. Wait at least 10 minutes before you put your contact lenses back in.
If you are using more than one eye product, apply these medicines at least 5 minutes apart.
The dose of pilocarpine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of pilocarpine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For ophthalmic dosage form (eye drops):
- For chronic glaucoma:
- Adults and children—Instill one drop 1 to 4 times a day.
- For acute angle-closure glaucoma:
- Adults and children—Instill one drop every 5 to 10 minutes for three to six doses. Then one drop every one to three hours until eye pressure is reduced.
- For presbyopia:
- Adults—Instill one drop in each eye once a day.
- Children—Use is not recommended.
- For chronic glaucoma:
- For ophthalmic dosage form (eye gel):
- For glaucoma:
- Adults and teenagers—Use once a day at bedtime.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For glaucoma:
- For ophthalmic dosage form (eye insert):
- For glaucoma:
- Adults and children—Insert one ocular system every seven days.
- Infants—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For glaucoma:
If you miss a dose of pilocarpine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions while using pilocarpine
If you will be using pilocarpine for more than a few weeks, your eye doctor will check your eyes at regular visits to make sure it is working properly and is not causing unwanted effects.
Serious eye or vision problems (eg, retinal detachment) may occur during treatment with pilocarpine. Check with your doctor right away if you are seeing flashes or sparks of light, seeing floating spots before the eyes, or a veil or curtain appearing across part of your vision.
For patients using the eye drops or eye gel:
- Pilocarpine may make you have trouble seeing at night or in dim light. Do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not able to see well.
For patients using the eye insert:
- For the first several hours after you insert this unit in the eye, your vision may be blurred or there may be a change in your near or far vision, especially at night. Therefore, insert this unit in the eye at bedtime, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. If this unit is inserted in the eye at any other time of the day, make sure your vision is clear before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not able to see well.
Pilocarpine side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Increased sweating
- muscle tremors
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- redness of the white part of the eyes or inside of the eyelids
- trouble breathing
- watering of mouth
- Blurred vision
- eye irritation or pain
- watering of the eyes
Incidence not known
- Chest tightness
- fast heartbeat
- hives, itching, skin rash
- joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
- redness of the skin
- swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, hands, or feet
- trouble breathing
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Decrease in night vision
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about pilocarpine ophthalmic
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 1 Review
- Drug class: ophthalmic glaucoma agents
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