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Could Your Medications Affect Your Vision?

When you first visit Capital Eye, your Canberra optometrist, we will ask you to bring a list of medications (both oral and topical eye drops) that you’re currently taking. We ask this because certain medications affect your eyesight and eye health. During history-taking, there will be a few questions we ask about your general health. This allows us to evaluate your risk your eye is at for any potential sight-threatening ocular diseases. This week, we will mention a few common types of medication that you might be taking and what affects it has on your overall eye health and vision.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is a complex ocular surface disease which is caused by reduced tear film quality. Your eyes need to be adequately lubricated to ensure it is free from debris, ocular irritation and other foreign bodies. The tear production is quite a delicate process, and it involves the functions of several glands located around your eyelids. Here are some medications that you are taking which could make your dry eye symptoms worse;

  1. Over the counter contraceptive pills
  2. Blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers
  3. Antihistamines tablets
  4. Artificial tears eye drops, specifically non-preservative-free ones

Some other medications such as cholesterol tablets and antidepressant could also affect making your dry eyes worse.

Cataracts and Glaucoma

Certain oral and topical steroids have shown to cause cataracts and increased intraocular pressure, increasing your risks for developing glaucoma. Steroids are used to treat a variety of systemic conditions from some autoimmune disorders and allergies.

Anticholinergics are often found in gastric reflux tablets, depression and anxiety medications could reduce the aqueous outflow in your eye, causing your eye pressure to spike, increasing your risks of glaucoma.

Plaquenil Toxicity

Patients who are on hydroxychloroquine are at risk of macular toxicity, if not managed, could lead to irreversible blindness. Medications which contains hydroxychloroquine are found in antimalarial tablets. It is also the main ingredients of Plaquenil, which is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Due to the risk of irreversible macular toxicity, it is advised that you have a baseline eye examination.


There are several antibiotics, such as doxycycline and some acne medications that can cause photophobia or, sensitivity to bright lights.

The Bottom Line

There are multiple medications which have a direct and indirect effect on your eye health. At Capital Eye, your local optometrist in Canberra would ask you to bring a list of medications to your appointment. We will note the dosage and discuss its potential side effects on your vision with you.

Certain medications can sometimes exacerbate your existing conditions, such as dry eyes. It is best to discuss your circumstances with your prescribing practitioner and in conjunction with your optometrist.