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  • Ocular Side Effects of Medications

  • There are many interactions of drugs with your eyes and vision. We do not intend to give you all possible ocular side effects from different medications. Instead, we will share common ocular side effects, or those which deserve special mention. Just because a drug is not listed does not mean that it does not have any possible ocular side effects.

    • Antidepressants prescribed for depression, such as Amitriptyline (tri-cyclic antidepressants), and Cymbalta increase the risk of acute angle closure glaucoma, but do not increase the risk for "open angle" glaucoma.
    • Any drug that dilates your pupils may increase the risk of angle closure glaucoma (narrow angle glaucoma).
    • But even hydrocortisones can contribute to glaucoma. These include oral Hydrocortisone (Cortef, Hydrocortone) and topical Hydrocortisone (Ala-Cort, Hi-Cor, Hytone, Neaclear, Penecort, Synacort).
    • Docetaxel (Taxotere) prescribed for breast, lung, prostate, stomach, neck and head cancers.
    • Fenfluramine, prescribed for weight loss
    • Gastric antispasmodics, prescribed to stop muscle spasms
    • Mirtazapine, prescribed for depression
    • NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin. See the list of NSAIDS above.
    • Paclitaxel (Taxol), prescribed for cancer treatment
    • Simvastatin , prescribed for high cholesterol - Don't eat grapefruit if you are taking this drug, as there are potentially dangerous side effects.
    • Steroids, cortisone prescriptions such as Prednisone (Prelone, Deltasone) are the most damaging drugs to the eyes of all prescription drugs. If you must take any of these drugs, be sure to supplement your diet with antioxidants such as vitamins E, C, and beta-carotene. This includes drugs for skin conditions: Betamethasone (Alphatrex, Diprolene, Diprosone), Desoximetasone (Topicort), Dexamethasone (Mymethasone, Decadron, Hexadrol), Fluocinonide (Lidex-E, Lidex), Fluocinolone (Synalar), and Triamcinolone (Aristorcort, Kenalog, Triacet, Triderm). It also includes drugs for treating asthma, allergic reactions and inflammation such as Methylprednisolone (Medrol). If you must take Prednisone, perhaps ask about a natural cortisone such as Hydrocortisone.
    • Stimulants such as ephedrine which is prescribed for low blood pressure, giving rise to dilation of the pupils, may increase risk of angle closure glaucoma.
  • Prescription medications and some over-the-counter remedies can have serious visual side effects. They can have a variety of effects on your eyes, ranging from minor, temporary issues such as blurred vision to permanent damage. Learn which drugs cause the most problems — and what to watch for if you have risk factors.

    Some of you have eyes configured to have a narrow angle that puts you at risk for an acute onset of glaucoma. Sulfa drugs like Topamax, or certain antihistamines or incontinence medications like Detrol or Ditropan, can trigger an acute attack of glaucoma in someone with a narrow angle. 

    Elevated eye pressure or intraocular pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve and is one of the risk factors for glaucoma and other vision conditions.  This is a serious condition because not only is death from cardiovascular problems more likely in glaucoma patients, but drugs used to treat glaucoma may damage the cardiovascular system. This is why you need to protect your eye sight with glaucoma tests as part of your routine eye exams.

    If you have diabetes, you are especially prone to developing blurred eyesight from cortisones. With high blood sugar levels, there is temporary swelling within the lens of the eye, resulting in blurred vision. With poor control of blood sugar, structural damage can occur within the eye that can cause severe vision loss.

    Your vision is too important to assume side effects will just go away. If you’re having clear-cut eye problems related to medication, please call us.