Lowering pressure within the eye is key to inhibiting the damaging effects of glaucoma. Typically, beta-blockers have been used for this purpose with reasonably good effect. The problem with beta-blocking medications is they cannot be taken by individuals with asthma, low pulse rates, and various heart conditions. Those that found themselves unable to take these medications were often cursed to go slowly blind.
Alcon Laboratories, in conjunction with lead researcher Jess Whitson, MD, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, have found a drug combination that does not employ beta-blockers but can relieve ocular pressure by as much as 30%. Though a mixture of 1 % brinzolamide and 0.2% brimonidine the drug is able to greatly inhibit the damage to the optic nerve caused by excessive pressure.
The combination drug has been tested in a double-blind study of 650 patients that suffered from ocular hyper-tension and open-angle glaucoma.
Of the group tested, some were given a brinzolamide in the form of Azopt. Others were given brimonidine in the form of Alphagan. A final group was prescribed the new Alcon Labs combination. While those given either component showed improvement, the combined effects were dramatically higher than either drug taken alone. Medscape has the full report.
Though the testing covered several months, it is as yet unsure whether or not the drug can be taken over longer periods of time to limit the onset of glaucoma. Interaction with other medications is still being tested.
The unnamed drug is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration. If they find it to be sound, it is expected to begin mass production soon.
The only side effects were allergy, eye irritation, and slightly blurred vision
Research is ongoing to determine whether the new combination drug is better than using brinzolamide and brimonidine medications in tandem.
Since it contains no beta-blocker, the drug shows no notable signs of exaserbating depression and does not appear to interact with antidepressants in any negative way.