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Some Drugs Increase the Risk of Glaucoma

See Drugs That Harm the Eyes for a more complete list of harmful drugs.


Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs can contribute to glaucoma risk. They include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Bayer, Aleve), flurbiprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen sodium. Also Tylenol (acetaminophen), though not an NSAID, can be harmful.


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.

Venlafaxine (Effexor)

Wikipedia points out that Venlafaxine is prescribed for the treatment of major depression and anxiety disorders, among other uses. In 2007, venlafaxine was the sixth most commonly prescribed antidepressant on the U.S. retail market, with 17.2 million prescriptions. It is contra-indicated not only for glaucoma, but also for pregnancy, heart disease and hypertension.

Simvastatin (Zocor, Simlup, Simcard)

Simvastatin is a statin drug used to control high cholesterol and to prevent cardiovascular disease. A small study (only 12 subjects) in 2006 however, suggested that statins also improve circulation in the eye, potentially reducing the risk of glaucoma and other eye conditions.

Mirtazapine (Remeron in the US)

Mirtazapine is a psychoactive drug used as an antidepressant which causes some degree of dependence. It has also been found to be efficient in the treatment of shallow breathing, sleep apnea, migraines, severe morning sickness, IBS, autism and other conditions. It is contra-indicated not only for glaucoma, but also for heart disease, high cholesterol, low blood pressure, prostate, seizures and diabetes.

Gastric antispasmodics

Gastric antispasmodics, such as dicyclomine and hyoscyamine, are drugs that reduce spasms in the stomach and digestive system. These drugs have other side effects as well.


Many anti-depressants, including Venlafaxine (above) can contribute to elevated risk of glaucoma. Many common antidepressents are contra-indicated for glaucoma, such as Valium, Cialis


There are anecdotal reports that diovan, a blood pressure medication can increase risk for glaucoma, one side effect being blurred vision.


Another potential glaucoma risk increaser is Ephedrine, used as an appetite suppressant and decongestant.

Douglas Rhee, MD, Harvard Medical School, and Steven Gedde, MD, University of Miami School of Medicine, wrote in 2009:

"Several different drugs have the potential to cause the elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP), which can occur via an open-angle mechanism or a closed-angle mechanism. Steroid-induced glaucoma is a form of open-angle glaucoma that usually is associated with topical steroid use, but it may develop with inhaled, oral, intravenous, periocular, or intravitreal steroid administration. Medications prescribed for a variety of systemic conditions (eg, depression, allergies, Parkinson disease) can produce pupillary dilation and precipitate an attack of acute angle-closure glaucoma in anatomically predisposed eyes that have narrow angles."

Life Extension ( points out that,

"According to Leonard Levine, Ph.D. certain drugs can "impair the biological health of the visual system." For example, the Physicians' Desk Reference lists 94 medications (in 2004!) that can cause glaucoma, including antihypertensives, antidepressants, and steroids, such as cortisol, which can destroy vital collagen tissue in the eye. Both herbal ephedrine and pseudoephedrine have central nervous system (CNS) stimulating properties. Ephedrine is the stronger of the two, but both are considered stronger than caffeine. The glaucomatous person should avoid these substances, particularly Ma-huang, licorice, and belladonna."


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