The purpose was to examine the incidence of allergic reactions and side effects of glaucoma treatment in asymptomatic individuals with early POAG. The glaucoma treatment studies were identified from MEDLINE, Cochrane Library and from HUCS Skin and allergy Hospital. The database search about possible adverse effects to various glaucoma medications consisted of 224 abstracts and titles from 1998 to 2004.
There are no high quality prospective studies concerning adverse effects and the adverse effects are often told as secondary outcomes in big glaucoma treatment studies.
There are only few studies, where the allergic reactions are verified by allergy tests. Another problem is that we may have an allergic reaction in the eye caused by glaucoma medication but the skin tests used for eye drops are not sensitive enough compared to the eye. Further problems are test medications, which usually are eye drops used by the patients. They are tested in most instances "as is" on the back skin. The back skin 5mm thick and the lid skin 0.5mm. This causes a fundamental difference in sensitivity, which is further amplified by very sensitive cornea and conjunctiva.
The treatment options include topical medications, systemic medications, laser surgery, and incisional surgery, alone or in combination. No data exists about sensitivity and specificity in suspected ocular allergies caused by topical glaucoma medication.
Contact allergy is caused by almost all topical glaucoma medications; pilocarpin, beta blockers: timolol, befunolol, betaxolol, levobunolol, carteol, metipranolol, carboanhydrase inhibitors, adrenergics, prostaglandin analoques, preservatives (BAK, bentsalcon chloride), parabens, thimerosal «Holdiness MR. Contact dermatitis to topical drugs ...»1, «Butler P, Mannschreck M, Lin S ym. Clinical experi...»2, «Costagliola C, Prete AD, Incorvaia C ym. Ocular su...»3, «Jerstad KM, Warshaw E. Allergic contact dermatitis...»4, «Cusano F, Luciano S, Capozzi M ym. Contact dermati...»5, «Gaspari AA. Contact allergy to ophthalmic dipivaly...»6, «Manni G, Centofanti M, Sacchetti M ym. Demographic...»7, «Aalto-Korte K. Contact allergy to dorzolamide eyed...»8, «Vilaplana J, Romaguera C. Contact dermatitis from ...»9, «Tosti A, Tosti G. Thimerosal: a hidden allergen in...»10, «Hätinen A, Teräsvirta M, Fräki JE. Contact allergy...»11. Our own results in HUCS Skin and allergy Hospital varies from 1.1 % to 5.5 %. The suspected allergic reactions to adrenergic apraclonidine and brimonidine are about 50 % among all users «Gross RL, Pinyero A, Orengo-Nania S. Clinical expe...»12.
Adverse effects are common. In the Collaborative Normal-Tension Glaucoma Study (CNTGS) «Comparison of glaucomatous progression between unt...»13 23 of 66 treated eyes (35 %) developed cataract, compared with 11 of 79 eyes in the control group (14 %) (p = 0.0011), relative risk (RR) 2.5, CL 1.32-4.75. The highest incidence of cataracts (16 of 33) occurred in surgically treated eyes, RR 3.48, CL 1.82-6.68. The rate of cataract formation in untreated eyes was lower than surgically treated eyes (p=0.0001) but was not different from medically treated eyes (p=0.18). In another study the risk of cataract formation was compared in medically treated vs. untreated eyes. In the EMGT «Heijl A, Leske MC, Bengtsson B ym. Reduction of in...»14 study, cataract development was more likely in the group treated with ALT (Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty) plus betaxolol than in untreated subjects (p=0.002), and the risk of cataracts related to treatment increase over time (p=0.02).
Ocular symptoms, such as dryness, tearing and itching, were frequently reported. In the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS) «Kass MA, Heuer DK, Higginbotham EJ ym. The Ocular ...»15 ocular symptoms occurred in 57 % of treated patients and 47 % of control subjects, NNH (number needed to harm) 10, p<0.001. Other symptoms such as darkening of the eyelids or eyelash growth, were reposted in 23 % of treated patients vs. 18 % of control subjects (NNH 10, p<0.001). Patients were treated by prostaglandinanaloques, most often by latanoprost and betablockers.
The CIGTS «Lichter PR, Musch DC, Gillespie BW ym. Interim cli...»16 trial reported intraoperative and postoperative complication for surgical trabeculectomy in 524 participants. Intraoperative complication included bleeding in the anterior chamber (7.1 %) and conjunctival buttonhole defects (1.0 %). Complications within 30 days postoperative were: shallow or flat anterior chamber (14.2 %); failed or encapsulated filtering bleb (11.9 %); ptosis (11.9 %); serous choroidal detachment (11.3 %); and anterior chamber bleeding or hyphema (10.9 %). Over time, the cataract extraction rate in the surgery group remained significantly higher than in the medication group (p=0.0001).
In the Finnish study there were examined complications of Neodymium YAG laser goniopuncture after deep sclerectomy in 31 patients. Three patients had spontaneous iris prolapse but there were no signs of severe hypotension «Vuori ML. Complications of Neodymium:YAG laser gon...»17.
In the EMGT «Heijl A, Leske MC, Bengtsson B ym. Reduction of in...»14 study there are also reported serious systemic adverse effects. In this study, more participants died in the group treated with topical medication and ALT (15 of 22) than in the untreated control group (7 of 22, p=0.08), RR 2.14, CL 1.09-4.21. Most of these deaths occurred among men in the first 2 years of the study. The patterns of cause specific mortality, primarily cardiovascular events and malignancy, were similar those expected in a population of the same age and gender.
In the OHTS «Kass MA, Heuer DK, Higginbotham EJ ym. The Ocular ...»15 study, there were no observed differences between the treated and untreated participants in total hospitalizations, worsening of pre existing conditions, or mortality. Serious psychiatric adverse effects were reported in 5.5 % (44 of 800) vs. 3.4 % (27 of 802) in the control group (p=0.05), RR 1.63, CL 1.02-2.61. Serious genitourinary adverse effects occurred in 1.5 % (12 of 800) of the treatment group vs. 0.5 % (4 of 802) in the control group (p=0.04), RR 3.01, CL 0.97-9.29.