In its eye drop form it is used to treat open-angle and, occasionally, secondary glaucoma. The mechanism of action of timolol is probably the reduction of the formation of aqueous humor in the ciliary body in the eye. It was the first beta blocker approved for topical use in treatment of glaucoma in the United States (1978). When used by itself, it depresses intraocular pressure (IOP) 18–34% below baseline within first few treatments. However, there are short-term escape and long-term drift effects in some people. That is, tolerance develops. It may reduce the extent of diurnal IOP curve up to 50%. IOP higher during sleep. Efficacy of timolol in lowering IOP during the sleep period may be limited. It is 5–10× more potent β blocker than propranolol. Timolol is light-sensitive; it is usually preserved with 0.01% benzalkonium chloride (BAC), but also comes BAC-free. Can also be used in adjunctive therapy with pilocarpine or carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.
A Cochrane review compared the effect of timolol versus brimonidine in slowing the progression of open angle glaucoma in adults but found insufficient evidence to come to conclusions.
^World Health Organization (2019). World Health Organization model list of essential medicines: 21st list 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization. hdl:10665/325771. WHO/MVP/EMP/IAU/2019.06. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
^Liu JH, Kripke DF, Weinreb RN (September 2004). "Comparison of the nocturnal effects of once-daily timolol and latanoprost on intraocular pressure". American Journal of Ophthalmology. 138 (3): 389–95. doi:10.1016/j.ajo.2004.04.022. PMID15364220.
^Liu JH, Medeiros FA, Slight JR, Weinreb RN (March 2009). "Comparing diurnal and nocturnal effects of brinzolamide and timolol on intraocular pressure in patients receiving latanoprost monotherapy". Ophthalmology. 116 (3): 449–54. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2008.09.054. PMID19157559.
^Liu JH, Slight JR, Vittitow JL, Scassellati Sforzolini B, Weinreb RN (September 2016). "Efficacy of Latanoprostene Bunod 0.024% Compared With Timolol 0.5% in Lowering Intraocular Pressure Over 24 Hours". American Journal of Ophthalmology. 169: 249–257. doi:10.1016/j.ajo.2016.04.019. PMID27457257.
^Strohmaier K, Snyder E, Adamsons I (July 1998). "A multicenter study comparing dorzolamide and pilocarpine as adjunctive therapy to timolol: patient preference and impact on daily life". Journal of the American Optometric Association. 69 (7): 441–51. PMID9697378.