Eye Doctors must take the time to ask patients about current medication use because adverse reactions can happen with the eyes which might lead to anything from minor irritation to blindness.  The variables that increase the risk of side effects include the nature of the drug given, the route the drug is administered and the amount of the drug administered keeping in mind that all medications have potential for toxicity if given in excessive amounts. Long-term use of therapeutic medications can also cause toxicity and increase the risk of ophthalmic side effects in patients.


The following is a list of common medications that can cause ocular side effects:

  • Accutane is used to treat cystic acne, psoriasis and various other skin conditions. Ocular side effects may include optic nerve inflammation, dry eye, decreased night vision, and transitory near-sightedness.  Annual eye exams are recommended while on Accutane.
  • Amiodarone is used to treat heart arrhythmias.  Ocular side effects include whorl-like pigmentation of the cornea, optic nerve inflammation and sensitivity to lights.
  • Antihistamines are used to treat allergies.  Ocular side effects include dry eyes.
  • Actos is used to treat diabetes by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.  Ocular side effects include swelling of the macula, the part of the retina that is used to see fine detail and color.
  • Birth Control Pills are used to prevent pregnancy.  Ocular side effects include inflammation of the optic nerve, dry eyes and pseudotumor cerebri, a condition that occurs when pressure inside the skull increases for no obvious reason.
  • Coumadin is a blood thinner that prevents clot formation in atrial fibrillation and thrombosis. Ocular side effects include retinal bleeding and subconjunctival hemorrhages, a condition where a bright red patch appearing in the white of the eye beneath the clear lining of the eye (conjunctiva).
  • Digoxin is commonly used for congestive heart failure. Ocular side effects include  red-green color defects, flickering or flashes of light, colored spots and snowy, hazy, or dimming vision. Yellow-tinged vision (xanthopsia) is also reported with this drug.
  • Ethambutol is used to treat tuberculosis. Ocular side effects include optic nerve disease.  This drug is so toxic that monthly eye exams are recommended while on it.
  • Flomax is used to treat prostate enlargement in men.  Ocular side efffects include loss of tone in iris dilator muscle causing poor pupil dilation and/or prolapse during cataract surgery.
  • Fosamax is used to treat osteoporosis.  Ocular side effects include blurred vision, red eyes, and inflammation throughout the eyes. A thorough dilated exam is recommended due to the multiple side effects.
  • Interferons are used to treat hepatitis or Multiple Sclerosis.  Ocular side effects include eye pain, conjunctivitis, retinal swelling, optic nerve inflammation and pronounced dry eye. A thorough eye exam is recommended prior to treatment and 2-4 weeks after treatment begins.
  • High Blood Pressure Medicine is used to treat hypertension.  Ocular side effects include severly dry eyes.
  • Synthroid or Levothyroxine are used to treat hypothyroid disease.  Ocular side effects include double vision, droopy eyelids and paralysis of eye muscles.
  • Lipitor and Zocor are used to treat high cholesterol.  Ocular side effects include swelling of the macula of the retina.
  • Thorazine and Mellaril are used to treat depression and anxiety. Ocular side effects include  night blindness, “brown vision”, cataract, and retinal pigment changes.
  • Plaquenil or Hydroxychloroquine are used to treat Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Malaria.  Ocular side effects include pigment changes and degeneration of the macula of the retina and corneal deposits. A baseline eye exam including a visual field test, color vision testing and retinal imaging is recommended.  This should be repeated every 6-12 months while on the drug.
  • Prednisone is used to treat Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune-mediated conditions. Ocular side effects include cataract formation and high eye pressure.
  • Prozac is used to treat depression and PMS.  Ocular side effects include dry eye, blurred vision, dilated pupils, light sensitivity, double vision and red eyes.
  • Tamoxifen is used to treat breast cancer.  Ocular side effects include retinal disease.
  • Topamax is used to treat seizures and migraine headaches. Ocular side effects include increased near sightedness and acute glaucoma.
  • Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction.  Ocular side effects include “blue vision” and optic nerve swelling.


So as you can see, a lot of medications that you take might cause problems with your eyes.  This is why we ask what medications you’re on every time you come in.