Have you noticed vision issues like double vision, a blurry vision effect, problems focusing, or not being able to see clearly? Maybe your eyes feel itchy, dry, red, or over-lubricated with tears flowing out? If so, you will want to check any medications you are taking, as well as any new ones you have started.

Both over the counter and prescription medications have side effects. Sometimes, these side effects affect our vision. Some side effects might be noticed right away after taking a new medication. Other times, the side effects take longer to present and might not show up for a few months or longer—maybe even years!

How Do I Find Out if It Is My Medication that Is Casing Vision Problems?

Before starting any medication, take the time to review the side effects with your doctor or pharmacist. If there are any side effects concerning your eyes or vision, pay careful attention to what these are.

For instance, antihistamines people often take for seasonal allergies can cause dry eyes. When people take these year-round or have prescription-strength antihistamines, the problem can be more noticeable. In this example, your eye doctor would most likely prescribe lubricating eye drops to use to help with the dry eye.

Certain medications can cause more serious vision issues in the future. Some concerning drugs are corticosteroids (betamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone, etc.). Long-term use of these medications can speed up the occurrence of cataracts and increase the risks of glaucoma.

Some drugs can damage the optic nerve, a condition referred to as optic neuropathy. This damage is permanent and cannot currently be reversed. Two drugs that can lead to optic nerve damage are Plaquenil and Viagra.

Other medications that you need to be aware of that have potential eye and vision problem side effects include:

  • Celebrex
  • Mobic
  • Nydrazid
  • Myambutol
  • Cialis
  • Levitra
  • Flomax
  • Fosamax
  • Topamax
  • Absorcia
  • Accutane
  • Cordarone

Please keep in mind, these are the brand names for the medications; the generic equivalents will also have the same potential side effects. Some of the side effects one could experience when taking these drugs are:

  • Dry Eye
  • Eye Pain
  • Double vision
  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Loss of Visual Acuity
  • Narrowing Field of Vision
  • Changes in Colors
  • Retina Damage
  • Optic Nerve Damage
  • Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome
  • Blue Vision
  • Blurred Vision

Please note this list of potential side effects does not imply all medications will have the same side effects. It is highly recommended to review potential side effects with your ophthalmologist, primary healthcare provider, or pharmacist for each medication you take regularly.

What Should I Do if I Take a Medication with Potential Eye or Vision Side Effects?

Joyful female pharmacist explaining mature man side effect while carrying medication

With certain medications, you may need an eye exam every six to twelve months. More frequently, eye exams can help identify potential side effects and eye and vision problems before they become more serious.

If a problem is discovered, then you will need to speak with your primary care doctor about alternative medications. You should never discontinue a medication without first consulting with your doctor.

If you have further questions about potential eye and vision side effects from medications you take or it has been some time since you have had a comprehensive eye exam, please feel free to contact ADV Vision Centers at (805) 987-5300 to schedule an appointment today!

We have office locations in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, and Paso Robles, and we offer telehealth consultations.