Secondary glaucoma – Can medications cause glaucoma?

Yes, glaucoma can be caused by several medications taken for other diseases, such as Parkinson, epilepsy, depression, allergies, prostate disorders, etc. These represent secondary glaucoma cases.

Particular attention should be given to corticosteroids. Steroid induced glaucoma is a type of glaucoma which develops with the use of medicines known as corticosteroids. It is most commonly noticed with steroid eye drops taken for allergic conjunctivitis/uveitis but can occur with use of steroid containing inhalers (taken by patients who suffer from asthma), nasal spray, skin ointments and any oral or IV medication containing steroids. Moreover, not only corticosteroids may cause glaucoma, but it may also lead to loss of IOP control in patients in treatment for glaucoma.

Thus steroids should be used cautiously and the patients who are using any form of steroid therapy must consult their ophthalmologist (eye specialist) and have their IOP checked regularly.

Of note, particularly for angle closure glaucoma, there are many medications that may trigger or contribute to the angle closure process. Drugs used for depression, migraine, urine incontinence, gastrointestinal disorders and other health conditions can worsen or cause a closed angle. Thus, patients with this form of the disease or suspect of having it should always mention it to their physicians, who will be able to evaluate which medications are safe or not. Also, patients with untreated angle closure or “occludable angles” should be careful when using some medications, even over the counter medications.

World Glaucoma Association

Important message for glaucoma patients

It is important for you to get yourself regularly screened for glaucoma. If you have been diagnosed to have glaucoma, effective treatment options are now available and regular treatment and follow up can help you to preserve your vision for your lifetime, avoiding unnecessary fear of going blind.

You can live happily with glaucoma and enjoy an excellent quality of life, particularly if the disease is detected early and treated in time. Always remember that once you have glaucoma, you will have to be under the care of an eye doctor for the rest of your life.

There is a lot of research going on and new treatments may become available for glaucoma in the near future.

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