Brimonidine

Brimonidine is available as an eye drop to treat glaucoma. The gel form is used to treat facial redness due to rosacea. Follow the instructions on how to properly use this medication.

Brimonidine Overview

Reviewed: September 28, 2013
Updated: 

Brimonidine eye drops is a prescription medication used to treat an eye condition called glaucoma. It is also used to treat a condition called ocular hypertension (higher than normal pressure inside the eye), which can lead to glaucoma if not treated.

Brimonidine gel is a prescription medication used to treat persistent facial redness of rosacea in adults 18 years of age or older.

Brimonidine belongs to a group of drugs called alpha adrenergic agonists. The eye drops work by decreasing the amount of fluid produced in the eyes. The gel form works by reducing the amount of blood flow to the facial area. Decreasing blood flow may reduce overall redness associated with rosacea.

The recommended dose of brimonidine eye drops is one drop in the affected eye(s) 3 times daily, approximately 8 hours apart.

The recommended dose for brimonidine gel is a pea-size amount once daily to each of the five areas of the face (forehead, chin, nose, each cheek) avoiding the eyes and lips.

Common side effects of brimonidine eye drops include eye allergies, itching, and redness.

Common side effects of brimonidine gel include flushing and a skin burning sensation at the site of application.

Brimonidine can cause blurred vision. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how brimonidine affects you.

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Uses of Brimonidine

Brimonidine eye drops is a prescription medication used to treat an eye condition called glaucoma. It is also used to treat a condition called ocular hypertension (higher than normal pressure inside the eye), which can lead to glaucoma if not treated.

Brimonidine gel is a prescription medication used to treat persistent facial redness of rosacea in adults 18 years of age or older.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Brimonidine Brand Names

Brimonidine may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Brimonidine Drug Class

Brimonidine is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Brimonidine

Common side effects of brimonidine eye drops include the following:

  • itchy, irritated, red, stinging, or burning eyes
  • dry eyes
  • watery or runny eyes
  • red or swollen eyelids
  • sensitivity to light
  • blurred vision
  • headache

Common side effects of brimonidine gel include the following:

  • redness on the skin
  • flushing
  • skin burning sensation
  • contact dermatitis
  • feeling of skin warmth
  • tingling sensation
  • acne
  • pain at the application site
  • blurred vision
  • nasal congestion

This is not a complete list of brimonidine side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Brimonidine Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • medicines to lower blood pressure, including clonidine (Catapres), metoprolol (Toprol XL, Lopressor), carvedilol (Coreg), bisoprolol (Zebeta), betaxolol (Kerlone), nebivolol (Bystolic), propranolol (Inderal), and digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • barbiturates including phenobarbital, pentobarbital (Nembutal), and secobarbital (Seconal)
  • opiates including fentanyl (Abstral, Fentora, Onsolis, Actiq)
  • sedatives or tranquilizers including diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), and eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Zelapar), isocarboxazid (Marplan), and rasagiline (Azilect)
  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil), amoxapine (Asendin), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil)

This is not a complete list of brimonidine drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Brimonidine Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with brimonidine including the following:

  • Worsening of vascular disease. Brimonidine should be used with caution in patients with depression, cerebral or coronary insufficiency, Raynaud’s phenomenon, orthostatic hypotension, thrombangiitis obliterans, scleroderma, or Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Brimonidine may lower blood pressure. It should be used with caution in patients with severe or unstable or uncontrolled heart disease.

Brimonidine can cause blurred vision. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how brimonidine affects you.

Do not take brimonidine if you are:

  • allergic to brimonidine or to any of its ingredients
  • taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor

Brimonidine Food Interactions

Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of brimonidine, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

Inform MD

Before taking brimonidine, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to brimonidine or to any of its ingredients
  • have depression
  • have heart or blood vessel problems
  • have dizziness or blood pressure problems
  • have problems with blood circulation or have had a stroke
  • have dry mouth or Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • have skin tightening or Scleroderma
  • have Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • have irritated skin or open sores
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Brimonidine and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X - are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

Brimonidine falls into category B. There are no well-done studies that have been done in humans with brimonidine. In animal studies, pregnant animals were given this medication, and the babies had a few medical issues related to this medication. This medication may be used if the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the unborn child.

Brimonidine and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

Brimonidine has been detected in breast milk in animal studies. It is not known if brimonidine crosses into human milk. Because many medications can cross into human milk and because of the possibility for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants with use of this medication, a choice should be made whether to stop nursing or stop the use of this medication. Your doctor and you will decide if the benefits outweigh the risk of using brimonidine.

Brimonidine Usage

Use brimonidine exactly as prescribed.

Brimonidine comes in solution form for eye drops and is applied to the affected eye(s) 3 times daily.

Brimonidine comes in topical gel form and is applied once daily for redness associated with rosacea. It is for external use only.

Brimonidine gel should not be applied to irritated skin or open wounds. Avoid contact with the eyes and lips.

Wash your hands immediately after applying the medication.

If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take 2 doses of brimonidine at the same time.

Brimonidine Dosage

Use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • how you respond to this medication

The recommended dose of brimonidine eye drops for lowering intraocular pressure is 1 drop in the affected eye(s) 3 times daily.

The recommended dose of brimonidine gel for redness associated with rosacea is a pea-sized amount of gel applied to each of the five areas of the face (forehead, chin, nose, and each cheek) once daily.

Brimonidine Overdose

If you take too much brimonidine, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If brimonidine is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

Store brimonidine at room temperature.

Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.