«« Vision Nurse »»


Do You Know That Steroid Medications Can Cause Cataracts - Catracts?

Steroids such as Prednisone and Cortisone -- are strong anti-inflammatory drugs that are helpful to those who suffer from serious diseases such as asthma, emphysema, arthritis, ulcerative colitis, eczema, lupus and (MS) multiple sclerosis. Whether they are taken orally, topically (for eyes) or by an inhaler, these are potent drugs that can reduce inflammation, control disease flare-ups, and sometimes even prevent death. But if used too frequently and/or for long periods, they can lead to side effects in various organs, including the eyes.

BENEFITS AND THE RISKS  of Using Steriods - Steroid Medication - Prevent Cataracts - Catracts

To curb the side effects, oral, inhaled or topical ophthalmological steroids are often prescribed for a very short period of time. For serious conditions, they must be used for longer periods of time. Chronic use of steroids can cause many side effects, including weakened bones, fluid retention, high blood pressure, mood swings and confusion. Less well known is that they can also also cause eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma so says the author of Cataracts: A Patient's Guide to Treatment. Cataracts are very treatable, as is glaucoma when detected early. Before prescribing steroids,  the author points out that doctors always try to make sure  the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks and usually will limit their use to as short a time as possible.

Ophthalmologists use steroid eye drops to treat a variety of potentially serious eye conditions, such as severe inflammation - also to prevent rejection of corneal transplants. Other physicians may prescribe them to reduce the severe itching caused by hay fever and allergies, etc. However, because of the potential for cataracts and glaucoma, patients should be under an eye doctor or ophthalmologist's care and supervision.

Even steroid inhalers commonly prescribed for asthma and emphysema, such as Flovent and Advair, can cause cataracts and glaucoma. That these low-dose, often used steroid inhalers could cause eye problems may come as a surprise.

Make Sure To USE STEROIDS SAFELY to Prevent Cataracts - Catracts

Guidelines for safe usage:

If you take steroid pills, medications, medicines or inhalers for chronic conditions you should have a yearly eye exam. This is the best way to diagnose treatable problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. Glaucoma has no early symptoms, so people may not realize it is developing -- or that early treatment with eye drops may be necessary to prevent having permanent vision loss.
If you need chronic steroid medication, ask your prescribing doctor what side effects you should watch for. If you already have glaucoma, notify your ophthalmologist if you end up needing steroids in the form of an inhaler or pills for a long time.

If you are using steroid inhalers or pills, carefully follow your prescribing doctor's instructions. The doctor will generally want you to take the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. It is particularly important not to self-medicate with steroids, including eye drops containing any steroids. These should always be used under the advice and supervision of your doctor.

Do not abruptly stop taking oral steroids or using inhalers on your own. Withdrawal usually must be phased out gradually, and stopping them too quickly may lead to serious medical problems. If you're experiencing side effects, discuss this with your prescribing physician or doctor rather than deciding on your own to stop them or reduce the dose.

Very important- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Eat plant food of all kinds. Raw foods, living foods and plant foods are all anti-inflammatory. To fight inflammation, eat more nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables (deeply colored blueberries and cranberries, dark green leafy chard, kale and mustard greens, for instance). Cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna is rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Cut way back or cut out simple sugars and carbohydrates from processed foods (cookies, white bread, chips) and fast foods, which cause extreme fluctuations in blood glucose levels... and fried foods (and all those with trans fat such as French fries), which encourage inflammation.

Steroids -- pills, inhalers or eye drops -- should be reserved for very serious illnesses. The dramatic benefits can make them seem like wonder drugs, but your doctor must always weigh the benefits against the risks and potential side effects.