One characteristic of the most common types of glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure (IOP), which has a damaging effect on optic nerve axons, leading to progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells. Therefore, ocular hypotensive drugs are the mainstay of pharmacological therapy for glaucoma. This review article, which is the first part of a two-part series, is dedicated to autonomic drugs which lower IOP by increasing the outflow of aqueous humour. These agents are subdivided into two groups: (a) drugs that lower IOP by increasing the trabecular outflow and the uveoscleral outflow (i.e. nonselective adrenergic agonists), and (b) medications that lower IOP by opening of the drainage angle and by increasing the conventional outflow via the trabecular outflow (i.e. parasympathomimetics). This paper summarizes the current state of knowledge on the mechanism of action of these drugs and their effect on IOP in dogs and cats. Moreover, it discusses possible undesirable side effects of these medications and presents the current ideas about their role and position in the medical management of glaucoma in small animals
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