7 Types of Medication That Can Cause Dry Eye

People taking prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs seldom realize the extent to which regular pills, drops, sprays and liquids can deprive their eyes of optimal hydration. Dry eye is a chronic condition which has been associated with everything, from drugs used to treat common cold to prescription heart medicines. The risk of developing dry eye becomes greater for people on multiple drugs. Are your eyes dry and irritated? Is your medication causing dry eye? Read on to know.

7 Types of Medication That Can Cause Dry Eye

7 Types of Medication That Can Cause Dry Eye

Here is a list of certain categories of medicines linked to dry eye:

Antihistamines Can Cause Dry Eye

Antihistamines like Allegra (fexofenadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Zyrtec (cetirizine) and Claritin (loratadine), block the effect of the chemical histamine, which the body produces to fight allergens. They provide relief from symptoms of allergy and cold like itching, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Unfortunately, in the process, these drugs take a toll on the eyes. They reduce the watery tear film, which keeps the eyes moist and thus cause dry eyes.

Nasal Decongestants Can Cause Dry Eye

Things which soothe a stuffy nose may not be so gentle on the eyes. Over-the-counter decongestants are the first form of medicine one uses for easing the symptoms of cold, flu, sinusitis and hay fever. These medicines constrict the blood vessels in the nasal membranes and reduce the blood flow to the swollen tissue of the nose for allowing the congested nose to breathe more easily. Nasal decongestants are available in the form of liquids, pills and nasal sprays. Like antihistamines, nasal decongestants also decrease tear production and cause dry eyes.

Antipsychotic Drugs, Antidepressants and Parkinson’s Medications Can Cause Dry Eye

Thioridazine for schizophrenia and amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, are some medicines which produce an anti-cholinergic effect by blocking the effective transmission of nerve impulses. Normally, on sensing eye dryness, a healthy nerve sends a signal to the brain. When the signal reaches the brain, tears are released from the eyes. But when this communication channel is hindered and the signal is not successfully delivered to the brain, tears are not produced and dry eye occurs. Trihexyphenidyl is a medication used to treat tremors, stiffness, and spasms caused by Parkinson’s disease. This medication has similar anti-cholinergic properties. Popular medicines like Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) belong to a special class of antidepressants, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which too can trigger dry eye.

Medicines for Hypertension Can Cause Dry Eye

People taking prescription medications to treat certain cardiac conditions and high blood pressure problem can also suffer from the issue of dry eye. Along with reducing the force of heart muscle contractions, slowing the heart rate and decreasing blood vessel contraction, these beta-blockers are also known to decrease the sensitivity of the cornea. This dampens the stimulus for tear glands to release tears and thereby causes dry eye. Diuretics, also called as water pills, are a type of medicine used to lower blood pressure. They work by inducing the body to excrete more urine. Diuretics like Lasix (furosemide) and Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide) drain excess water out of the body and the eyes as well, thereby causing dry eye.

Oral Contraceptives & Hormone Therapy Can Cause Dry Eye

Women who take hormone therapy, especially estrogen alone, face a greater risk of developing dry eye. In a study conducted on more than 25,000 post menopausal women, it was seen that women who took estrogen alone had a 69% greater risk of dry eye while those who took estrogen plus progesterone had a 29% higher risk of dry eye, than women who did not take hormones. Hormonal changes caused in women by birth control pills also lead to the development of dry eye. Although the exact link between hormones and eye dryness is still unclear, scientists believe that estrogen may be responsible for adversely affecting the oil-producing glands of the eye and reducing the aqueous or water layer of the tear film.

Eye Drops Can Cause Dry Eye

As strange as it may sound, but certain eye drops actually exacerbate the symptoms of dry eyes. Visine (tetrahydrozoline ophthalmic), is one such eye drop which works by shrinking the blood vessels to the eyes for reducing redness and cause dry eye too. But as these drops wear off, the vessels dilate and get inflamed again.

Medicine for Acne Can Cause Dry Eye

Dermatologists often prescribe isotretinoin for relieving severe and stubborn acne. This powerful drug has a drying effect on oil glands and, as a side effect, can cause irritation in the eyes and eyelids and trigger dry eye.

When experiencing the symptoms of dry eye, consult a doctor immediately. Tell them about the medical conditions you are suffering from and the medications you are taking. This will help them rightly pin-point the drug responsible for causing chronic eye dryness.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 19, 2019

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