Drugs Damage Vision, Sometimes Permanently

There are quite a number of drugs which can harm your eyes – all of the following have the potential to contribute to glaucoma and other vision problems. Just because you can buy something over the counter or with a prescription, doesn’t mean it cannot hurt you.

  • NSAIDs-(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Bayer, Aleve), flurbiprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen sodium. Also Tylenol (acetaminophen), though not an NSAID, can be harmful.
  • Venlafaxine
  • Steroids – cortisone prescriptions such as Prednisone are the most damaging drugs to the eyes of any prescription drugs. If you must take any of these drugs, be sure to supplement your diet with anti-oxidants such as vitamins E and C, and beta-carotene. Ask your doctor if you can replace Prednisone with a natural cortisone such as hydrocortisone.
  • Simvastatin
  • Fenfluramine
  • Amantadine - Patients with the neurodegenerative disease referred to as Parkinson’s are often proscribed the drug amantadine to alleviate motor problems.    Amantadine treatment causes abnormal changes in the cornea in some Parkinson’s patients. Generally, these corneal reactions occur soon after starting the drug and disappear a few weeks after they stop taking. Occasionally, these issues arise after patients have been taking the drug for many years, and, in these cases, patients often do not recover even when amantadine is stopped.A new study has been aimed at discovering  whether the effect of amandatine on corneal endothelial cells is dependent on the cumulative dose received. In a comparison study researchers found that patients with the highest cumulative amandatine intake and/or longest duration of treatment (up to 8 years) had the most significant reductions in endothelial cell density (ECD). Endothelial cells work to keep excess water out of the main body of the cornea. When there are too few endothelial cells, corneal edema (swelling) results and vision is impaired.

    Study leader, Dr. Won Ryang Wee says: “Assuming other studies confirm these results, ophthalmologists and neurologists should consider evaluating a patient’s corneal endothelium at the beginning of treatment with amandatine and reassess at regular intervals if the drug is used long term, and additional monitoring would be needed for patients with other conditions that reduce ECD–such as recent cataract surgery or ongoing glaucoma, uveitis or Fuch’s dystrophy–because corneal edema could develop during treatment.”

    Source: http://www.elements4health.com/

  • Mirtazapine
  • Gastic antispasmodics
  • Antidepressants - In the June, 2010 issue of Opthamology Canadian researchers reveal a link between antidepressants known as elective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs (including the brand names Luvox, Effexor, Paxil) and and cataracts.  Antidepressants are taken by an estimated 10% of the U.S. population.The eye has serotonin receptors in its lens, and animal models have shown that serotonin can increase opacity of the lens and lead to cataracts. This study is the first to demonstrate this phenomenon in humans.
  • Anti-cancer drugs - An article in the journal Eye describes how closed-angle glaucoma (also known as acute glaucoma) can be induced by non-steroidal drugs.  One of the groups of medications named in the study are antineoplastics (anti-cancer medications).
  • Sulfa drugs - According to the article in Eye sulfa drugs can also be related to bilateral glaucoma.  Study authors conclude that these incidences of closed angle glaucoma can be prevented if at-risk patients are identified at the outset and steps are taken to prevent this serious side effect.  Source: Eye, (3 June 2011)
  • Anti-Glaucoma Drugs – The long-term use of topical antiglaucoma drugs can have an effect on the sensitivity of the macula (light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye).  Authors of this study published in The Annals of Ophthalmology recommend periodic evaluation of the macula for all patients receiving antiglaucomatous agents.  Source: http://www.springerlink.com
  • Sun-sensitizing drugs - A new study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology finds that those who take medications that make them more sensitive to the sun have an increased risk of developing cataracts.And, in case you are thinking that you only have to worry about the sun if you are soaking up the rays on the equator, this study involved residents of Wisconsin who were exposed to their own local sunshine.
  • Party Poppers - A review of cases published in the The New England Journal of Medicine shows that “poppers,” legal recreational drugs common in club culture, can cause light sensitivity and vision loss in some individuals.

In an article by HealthDay Reporter, researchers say, “poppers — a catch-all term for alkyl nitrites that are often inhaled by partyers for a brief ‘head rush’ and to increase sexual arousal — may compromise the normal workings of photoreceptor cells found in a key region of the eye’s retina.”  They go on to explain that “nitric oxide is known to affect the metabolism of photoreceptors and can also alter the operation of a key enzyme involved in photoreceptor function.” Researchers did note that those who stopped taking poppers seemed to recover over a period of several months.  Experts do not yet agree fully on the correlation between the use of this drug and the damage to the eyes; some believe evidence is simply anecdotal at this stage and that more formal research is necessary. Source: http://www.medicinenet.com

A much safer course than automatically taking a lot of drugs, ie, for a headache, is to look at other contributing factors and make lifestyle changes in the amount of rest you get, the amount of exercise you get, your diet, levels of stress in your life, and so forth.

What are the conventional treatment options for glaucoma? Do they work?

Treatment depends on the nature and severity of each case. Commonly, open angle glaucoma is treated with eyedrops or oral medications. In the event this treatment does not lower the eye pressure inside the eye, laser therapy or surgery may be necessary. There are no guarantees!

What about alternative treatment?

Since we consider most eye conditions to be a reflection of the health of the whole body, lifestyle choices and diet can play a major factor in getting and maintaining good vision. Below are some recommendations:

  • Studies show patients can reduce their eye pressure by five to seven millimeters with an improved diet and supplement program. In general, a diet high in betacarotene, vitamins C and E, and sulfur-bearing amino acids are recommended. Foods containing those nutrients include garlic, onions, beans, spinach, celery, turnips, yellow and orange vegetables, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, apples, oranges and tomatoes.
  • The Vision Diet – recommended in Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Healthy Vision, authored by Marc Grossman, O.D., L.Ac. and Michael Edson, MS, L.Ac. This CD covers 29 major eye conditions including Glaucoma with specific nutrient, diet, exercise and juicing instructions by eye condition, plus much more.
  • Daily juicing of vegetables and fruits (preferably organic). Our glaucoma recipe is some combination of the following: celery, carrots, cucumber, radish, turnip, parsley, beets, cabbage, raspberries, plums, apple (not too much fruit). For more information, go to info about juicing.
  • Drink lots of water – 8-10 glasses of purified water. Avoid carbonated, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. They can actually dehydrate your eyes.
  • Manage your stress – meditate, take a walk in nature, practice yoga, visualization techniques or prayer on a daily basis.
  • Exercise daily – do at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. Walking and swimming are two excellent forms of exercise.
  • Eye exercises can help to bring energy and blood to the eyes, thereby helping to drain away toxins or congestion to the eyes. These are free general eye exercises and acupressure points for overall eye health. See Free Eye Exercises
  • Avoid foods to which you are allergic: a study of 113 patients with chronic simple glaucoma showed immediate IOP increases of up to 20 millimeters when they were exposed to foods in to which they were allergic.
  • Supplement your diet with a specific eye formula such as the Optic Nerve Formula and an organic green drink daily such as Renewal Greens