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Pronounced: BAIT-ah-gan
Generic name: Levobunolol hydrochloride

Why is this drug prescribed: Betagan eyedrops are given to treat chronic open-angle glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eye). This medication is in a class called beta blockers. It works by lowering pressure within the eyeball.

Most important fact about this drug: Although Betagan eyedrops are applied to the eye, the medication is absorbed and may have effects in other parts of the body. If you have diabetes, asthma or other respiratory diseases, or decreased heart function, make sure your doctor is aware of the problem.

How should you take this medication: Use Betagan eyedrops exactly as prescribed. Some people also need to use eyedrops that constrict their pupils. Administer Betagan eyedrops as follows: Wash your hands thoroughly. Gently pull your lower eyelid down to form a pocket between your eye and eyelid. Hold the bottle on the bridge of your nose or on your forehead. Do not touch the applicator tip to any surface, including your eye. Tilt your head back and squeeze the medication into your eye. Close your eyes gently. Keep your eyes closed for 1 to 2 minutes. Wait 5 to 10 minutes before using any other eyedrops. Do not rinse the dropper. --If you miss a dose... If you take Betagan once a day, use it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the next day, skip the dose you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once. If you take Betagan 2 or more times a day, use it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once. --Storage instructions... Store at room temperature, away from light.

What side effects may occur: Side effects from Betagan cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor. Only your doctor can determine whether it is safe for you to continue using this medication. You may feel a momentary burning and stinging when you place the drops in your eyes. More rarely, you may develop an eye inflammation. Beta blockers may cause muscle weakness; weakened muscles around the eyes may cause double vision or drooping eyelids. Other potential side effects include: Burning and tingling (pins and needles), chest pain, confusion, congestive heart failure, depression, diarrhea, difficult or labored breathing, dizziness, fainting, hair loss, headache, heart palpitations, hives, impotence, low blood pressure, nasal congestion, nausea, rash, skin peeling, slow or irregular heartbeat, stroke, temporary heart stoppage, vision problems, weakness, wheezing

Why should this drug not be prescribed: Do not use Betagan if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it or are sensitive to it. You should not use Betagan if you have any of the following conditions: Asthma Cardiogenic shock (shock due to insufficient heart action) Certain heart irregularities Heart failure Severe chronic obstructive lung disease Slow heartbeat (sinus bradycardia)

Special warnings about this medication: Betagan contains a sulfite preservative. In a few people, sulfites can cause an allergic reaction, which may be life-threatening. If you suffer from asthma, you are at increased risk for sulfite allergy. Betagan may be absorbed into your bloodstream. If too much of the drug is absorbed, this may worsen asthma or other lung diseases or lead to heart failure, which sometimes happens with oral beta-blocker medications. Beta blockers may increase the risks of anesthesia. If you are facing elective surgery, your doctor may want you to taper off Betagan prior to your operation. Use Betagan cautiously if you have diminished lung function. Since beta blockers may mask some signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), you should use Betagan very carefully if you have low blood sugar, or if you have diabetes and are taking insulin or an oral antidiabetic medication. If your body tends to produce too much thyroid hormone, you should taper off Betagan very gradually rather than stopping the drug all at once. Abrupt withdrawal of any beta blocker may provoke a rush of thyroid hormone ("thyroid storm"). Do not use 2 or more beta-blocker eye medications at the same time.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: If Betagan is used with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Betagan with the following: Calcium-blocking blood pressure medications such as Calan and Cardizem Digitalis (the heart medication Lanoxin) Epinephrine (Epifrin) Oral beta blockers such as the blood pressure medications Inderal and Tenormin Reserpine (Serpasil)

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding: The use of Betagan in pregnancy has not been adequately studied. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, notify your doctor immediately. Betagan eyedrops should be used during pregnancy only if the benefit justifies the potential risk to the unborn child. Since other beta blocker medications are known to appear in breast milk, use Betagan eyedrops with caution if you are breastfeeding.

Recommended dosage: The recommended starting dose is 1 or 2 drops of Betagan 0.5% in the affected eye(s) once a day. The typical dose of Betagan 0.25% is 1 or 2 drops twice daily. For more severe glaucoma, your doctor may have you use Betagan 0.5% twice a day.

Overdosage: Overuse of Betagan eyedrops may produce symptoms of beta blocker overdosage--slowed heartbeat, low blood pressure, breathing difficulty, and/or heart failure. Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose of Betagan, seek medical attention immediately.

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