I am so confused and frightened about starting on the higher dose Alphagan P .01 without being diagnosed with Glaucoma and knowing that Ocular Hypertension does not necessarily lead to Glaucoma.
I can understand this. There is no reason to be frightened, however. Here's my experience. Almost 18 years ago, before I founded FitEyes, I had similar concerns about my IOP and my eye drops. (However, I was already diagnosed with glaucoma, so getting my medications right and getting my IOP controlled properly was a serious concern for me.)
I found a wonderful solution 16 years ago, and it led to the founding of FitEyes. That solution is all about empowering patients through knowledge and self-tonometry (home IOP monitoring). There is really no other way to properly select your eye drops and know their true efficacy.
Anything else you and your doctor do will be largely guesswork based on insufficient information. (You can find many messages on FitEyes about the pitfalls of the process that relies on trying just one or a few different options and checking your IOP every few months at your doctors office. That process is simply inadequate.) But with self-tonometry, you can get the information you need to allow your doctor to help you find the correct eye drops for you.
Fortunately, today we have affordable options for self-tonometry that we did not have years ago. Today you can even rent a simple home tonometer for as little as a week. You can rent a tonometer from Enlivened, which is a company that grew out of the FitEyes community:
Tonometers - Enlivened Online Dispensary Tonometer Rentals
The entire FitEyes community will help you get started with the tonometer. What I suggest is that you get samples of several different eye drops from your ophthalmologist (or from an optometrist you also see). Get samples of as many different medications as they will give you and encourage them to give you more different kinds of drops than they think you will actually ever use or need. The more options you have for testing, the better.
Then rent a tonometer and start testing how the drops work for you.
Eye felt awful, blurry and strange for the rest of the day
That's an important part of your monitoring. Discontinue the drops that cause you that level of irritation and replace them with one of the other options your doctor has given you. Then monitor your IOP over the next few days. You will find the right eye drops and you do not need to suffer with constantly irritated eyes.
You will accomplish in days and weeks what typically requires months and years without self-tonometry. In fact, most glaucoma patients are never able to optimize their eye drops they way someone with a tonometer can. With a tonometer the process is efficient. It's actually fun because it removes all the fear and confusion that otherwise surrounds this process. When we are empowered and when we participate in finding solutions that work for us, taking care of our health is so much less stressful. It is possible to find joy in the process now.
The experience of optimizing my own glaucoma eye drops was very positive for me. With the help of my tonometer, I was able to reduce my medications from three different drops, one of which I had to use 3 times per day, to a single medication used once per day. In fact, I only need a fraction of a drop per day. I use micro-dosing, which greatly reduces my eye irritation. Actually, it totally eliminates any eye irritation I experience, and my IOP remains right where it should be. It is impossible to do what I did without a tonometer.
With the ability to monitor your own IOP (and the option to use smaller drops, which you can do via various means, including the inexpensive Nanodropper), I think a person could turn any normal glaucoma eye drop medication into a low dosage equivalent. In my case I use Zioptan and I take 1/5 of a drop per day. That lower dose solved all irritation for me.
I hope this is a useful answer for you.