Latanoprost

Brand names of latanoprost

  • Xalatan

Latanoprost is a structural derivative of the compound prostaglandin F2-alpha. It is used in the treatment of an eye condition called glaucoma, which leads to gradual loss of vision and ultimate blindness.

Our eyeballs contain a liquid called aqueous humor. In glaucoma affected eyes, the aqueous humor is not able to drain out when in surplus and increases pressure in the eyeballs. This pressure causes damage to the optic nerve situated at the back of the eye, impairing its ability to transmit visual images to the brain. The result is gradual loss of vision and ultimate blindness.

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Latanoprost binds to the prostaglandin receptors in the eye. This causes aqueous humor to flow out, thus reducing the pressure within the eyeballs and keeping the optic nerve safe. Latanoprost is more effective in combination with timolol (Timoptic), another drug used in the treatment of glaucoma. In combination, these drugs lead to greater reduction in aqueous humor pressure, than that achieved by any of these when used singly.

Besides glaucoma, latanoprost can also be used in certain other eye conditions, like ocular hypertension, which also cause increased pressure in the eyeballs and may lead to blindness. Ask your ophthalmologist or pharmacist to know more about its uses in other eye conditions.

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Latanoprost received the approval of FDA in 1996. It is a topical medication available in the form of eye drops. The usual quantity of application is one drop once a day, applied in the affected eye, usually in the evening. If you are using it in combination with some other topical eye drop, wait for at least 5 minutes before applying the other one.

Follow the directions given on the label, and in your prescription. Clarify any point you are not able to understand with your ophthalmologist and use exactly as directed. Don't increase or decrease the prescribed quantity or frequency of application.

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Prior to taking latanoprost let your health care provider know

  • If any drugs cause allergic reactions to you.
  • If you are taking any other prescription or non-prescription drugs, including vitamins.
  • If you suffer from eye inflammation.
  • If you suffer from, or have ever suffered from, liver or kidney diseases.
  • If you plan to be pregnant, or are already pregnant, or breast feeding babies.
  • If pregnancy occurs when you are on latanoprost.
  • If a surgery has to be performed when you are on latanoprost, tell the surgeon about your use of latanoprost. This includes dental surgery.

Usage

Latanoprost is used to reduce the pressure of aqueous humor inside eyeballs which may be caused by open angle type glaucoma, or other eye conditions like ocular hypertension. Structurally, it is akin to a natural compound prostaglandin, found in our body, and works by binding to prostaglandin receptors in the eye, thereby increasing the outflow of the aqueous humor and reducing pressure within the eyeballs. The reduced pressure keeps the optic nerve at the back of the eye safe and averts blindness.

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How to use latanoprost

Apply one drop of it in the affected eye, or both the eyes if both are affected, once a day in the evening, unless directed otherwise by your ophthalmologist. Wash your hands before applying. Do not touch the tip of the dropper with your hands, and do not let it touch any other surface or even the eye, to avoid contamination.

Do not use in larger quantity or in greater frequency than prescribed. Interestingly, using more of the medicine can decrease its effectiveness.

Contact lenses can absorb the preservatives used in the medicine. If you use contact lenses, take them out before applying latanoprost and do not wear again for at least 15 minutes.

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To apply the eye drop, tilt your head backward, look up and pull down the lower eyelid. Bring the dropper right above your eye without touching it, and squeeze it till the required number of drops enter the eye. Now, look down and keep your eyes gently closed for 1-2 minutes. Don't blink and don't rub the eyes.

Press gently at the inside corner of the eye, near the nose, with a finger. This will stop the medicine from coming out.

Don't rinse the dropper and replace its cap properly after use. Apply regularly, at about the same time every day, to derive maximum benefit. Don't stop use before the completion of the prescribed course, even if you don't feel any problem. People with glaucoma or other eye conditions causing high pressure in the eyeballs, normally don't experience any immediate problem.

If you are using latanoprost in combination with some other topical eye medication, whether eye drop or ointment, wait for at least five minutes before applying the other one. As a rule, eye drops should be used before ointment, or it may prevent them from entering the eye properly.

How latanoprost works

Glaucoma, an eye condition that may lead to blindness, occurs as a result of the eye fluid, called aqueous humor, not getting drained out properly. This happens because of lack of enough prostaglandin, a natural chemical found in our body. As a result, the intraocular pressure, or the pressure in the eyeballs, is increased and damages the optic nerve at the back of the eye. This leads to a gradual impairment of vision, ultimately causing blindness.

Latanoprost is akin to prostaglandin and binds to prostaglandin receptors in the eye. This results in the increased flow of the aqueous humor out of the eye which reduces intraocular pressure. Thus, the optic nerve is kept safe, avoiding the possibility of loss of vision or blindness.

Side effects

Serious
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
Common
  • eye redness
  • sensation of something in the eye
  • blurred vision
  • increased brown pigmentation of the iris
  • burning and stinging of the eye
Less common
  • pain in the chest and back
  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • swollen eyelid
  • dry eye
  • double vision
  • eye pain, lid crusting
  • sensitivity to light
  • excessive tearing
  • eyelid pain or discomfort

Possible interactions

Other medicaments
Pilocarpine, used along with latanoprost, may reduce its benefits. Schedule it at least 1 hour after using latanoprost.
Thimerosal, used along with latanoprost, may cause precipitation. Do not mix it with latanoprost, and use at least 5 minutes after it, if used at all.
Herbal medicines or minerals
Avoid belladonna, henbane and ephedra while using latanoprost. Scopolia root may worsen the condition of glaucoma as a side effect. So don't use it if suffering from glaucoma.
Marijuana smoking
Marijuana may lead to additional decrease in intraocular pressure.
Exposure to sun
Latanoprost may make eyes sensitive to sun. So, wear sunglasses when using it.
Other interactions
No human studies have been conducted on latanoprost's effects on the foetus. However, studies on animals suggest a harmful effect. Therefore latanoprost should not be prescribed during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh potential risks.
No information is available on whether latanoprost reaches breast milk.

Discontinuation

Regular use should not be stopped without consulting the ophthalmologist as it may lead to blindness.

Storage instructions

Don't transfer the medicine to any other container. Keep the container tightly closed and away from children. Store at room temperature away from heat as well as moisture (that is, not near fire place or in bathroom). Throw away the medicine if no longer required. Don't store it for future use.

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