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Pilocarpine

INFORMATION

Uses

Pilocarpine is used in the treatment of glaucoma (high eye pressure) and dry mouth after radiotherapy of head and neck cancer.

How it works

Pilocarpine belongs to a class of drug called as cholinergic agonist that acts by increasing the activity of chemical acetylcholine, thereby, increasing the secretion from various glands including salivary glands and tear glands. Due to its cholinergic effect, it also constricts the pupil of the eye and improves the outflow of aqueous humor (fluid in within the eye) contributing to reduction in eyeball pressure.

Common side effects

Nausea, Diarrhoea, Frequent urge to urinate, Abdominal pain, Allergy, Flushing, Ankle swelling, Limb swelling, Chills, Sweating, Fever, Dizziness, Headache, Heartburn, Running nose, Weakness, Vomiting

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Expert advice

  • Inform your doctor if you have eye inflammation, suffer from asthma, liver, kidney or heart diseases, Parkinson’s disease, stomach ulcer, have problems in passing urine, high blood pressure, narrow angle glaucoma (increased eyeball pressure due to obstruction to the outflow of fluid).
  • Drink sufficient water to reduce dehydration due to excessive sweating caused by pilocarpine.
  • The back layer of your eye (fundus) may be examined before starting pilocarpine therapy.
  • You may be regularly monitored for visual fields and intra-ocular pressure on long term therapy with pilocarpine for glaucoma.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery as pilocarpine causes dizziness and blurring of vision especially in the night.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breast-feeding.

Frequently asked questions

Pilocarpine

Q.Does pilocarpine increase or decrease heart rate?
Pilocarpine can decrease the heart rate. However, it does not increase the heart rate

Q.Does pilocarpine cause weight gain/increase blood pressure?
Pilocarpine increases blood pressure. However, no clinically relevant effect on weight has been reported with the use of pilocarpine

Q.Does pilocarpine help dry eyes?
Yes, pilocarpine helps dry eyes by increasing the production of tears

Q.Does pilocarpine work?
Pilocarpine acts by increasing the activity of chemical acetylcholine, thereby, increasing the secretion from various glands including salivary glands and tear glands. Due to its cholinergic effect, it also constricts the pupil of the eye and improves the outflow of aqueous humor (fluid in within the eye) contributing to reduction in eyeball pressure

Q.Does pilocarpine cause blurred vision/hair loss?
Yes, pilocarpine causes blurred vision. But it does not cause hair loss

Q.How does pilocarpine affect heart rate?
Pilocarpine decreases heart rate by increasing the effect of a chemical called as acetylcholine

Q.How does pilocarpine lower intraocular pressure?
Pilocarpine lowers intraocular pressure by constricting the ciliary muscle of the eyes, therefore increasing the outflow of fluid (aqueous humor) from posterior part of the eye.


Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)