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Latest treatment options and news about cataracts, dry eye syndrome and other eye care topics.

Steroids and Cataracts: What You Should Know

by dwasylow 13 January 2015 10:17 AM

oral-corticosteroids-cataracts
Millions of Americans take corticosteroid medications daily to address a variety of health problems, from arthritis to asthma. While these prescription drugs often deliver considerable health benefits, users should be aware of the link between steroids and the risk for cataracts.

Studies show that long-term use or high-doses of steroids can promote cataract formation. People taking a combination of oral and inhaled steroids are at the highest risk.

In a study reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, seven out of 10 patients who “at the start of the study had ever used inhaled steroids, had used oral steroids for at least one month and had no cataracts,” were found to have cataracts in follow-up exams.

The specific types of cataracts known to be promoted by steroids are called subcapsular cataracts. These cataracts develop near the back of the eye lens, forming opaque patches that inhibit the passage of light to the retina. Subcapsular cataracts often produce glare or halos at night, interfere with reading and limit vision in bright conditions.

Patients taking corticosteroids should schedule regular screenings with their eye doctor to diagnose any cataract development. If diagnosed early, your eye physician can make recommendations to help slow cataract development. In the beginning, when vision is only slightly blurred by the cataract, it may be possible to adjust your eyeglasses prescription to compensate. Eventually, however, surgery will be the only effective treatment option.

Cataract surgery is generally an outpatient procedure that can be performed using local anesthetic. A tiny incision is made and the cloudy lens removed. An artificial lens implant known as an intraocular lens (IOL) implant is put in its place.

New laser-assisted cataract surgery options make the procedure pain-free and reduce the time required for recovery. Patients often report improved vision on their way home following the surgery.

If you are taking oral or inhaled steroids, contact our office today to schedule an eye examination and cataract screening.

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