Can Antidepressant Drugs Cause Cataracts

by Garreth Myers


Recent studies and research show that although antidepressant drugs are not the exact cause of cataracts, they do increase the risk of a patient developing this problem. This is particularly true in the case of SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) depressants. The risk of developing cataracts because of antidepressants is always higher for older individuals as compared to younger people. Government health organizations claim that more than 7 million people who are over the age of 65 years take antidepressants for various health problems. These drugs have their own side effects especially for older people. One of the most well known side effects is the increased risk of cataracts.

A cataract is a medical condition where the lens of the eye is clouded and this affects an individual's eyesight. Progressing cataracts cause serious eyesight deterioration over time and eventually require surgery to correct vision. Although it is very common for older people to develop cataracts, some factors increase the risk of developing such eye problems like air pollution, cigarette smoke, and excessive alcohol consumption. Adding to this is the risk of taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's). If we assume that 10 percent of the population takes these antidepressant drugs, the risk of cataracts increases by 15 percent. Researchers in the United States have calculated that almost 22,000 cases of cataracts are a result of consuming antidepressants.

Many people wonder how drugs prescribed for the brain induce cataracts. Studies on this subject help us see how exactly antidepressants may cause cataracts. Some of the findings are as under:

  • Antidepressant drugs increase the serotonin levels in the brain
  • Increased serotonin levels make the lens of the eye opaque resulting in cataracts. This is because the lenses contain serotonin receptors that help in activating cellular function.
  • Similarly, beta-blockers, inhaled, and oral steroids also increase the risk of developing cataracts.

Considering this, it is also important to remember that risk of cataracts increases only with current drug use and has nothing to do with drugs used in the past. This means that individuals who are no longer taking antidepressants need not worry much about developing this eye problem. It is also important to note that not all antidepressant drugs increase the risk of cataracts. However, patients and doctors should consider the risks before consuming and prescribing antidepressants, especially for older people.

All drugs have the ability to inhibit the natural functioning of the body. On one hand, they help you deal with specific problems while on the other they may cause a number of side effects that throw the body off balance. An important thing to remember here is that stopping the drugs may help prevent cataracts provided they have not developed already. Apart from antidepressants, hormonal drugs may also induce cataracts. Estrogen receptors in the lens of the eyes may trigger the formation of cataracts in men and women undergoing hormonal therapy. The risk of developing cataracts increases by at least 14 percent in women who have undergone hormone replacement therapy and for those who are currently undergoing such treatments, the risk increases even further. It is also important to remember that the longer you undergo such treatments, the higher the risk of developing this eye problem.

Home Remedies

Since drugs like antidepressants play a role in the development of cataracts, one can use simple home remedies to try to prevent this eye problem. Although herbalists advocate the safety and effectiveness of natural treatments, it is always better to consult your ophthalmologist before trying any of them. Some of the simple home remedies for preventing and treating cataracts include:

  • Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamins A and E that are beneficial in maintaining healthy eyes. Some of the best sources of these two vitamins include kale, spinach, blackberries, blueberries, and cherries.
  • Avoid or limit the intake of saturated fats and dairy products that produce free radicals, which may damage the lens and cause cataracts.
  • Avoid the use of antihistamines as much as possible.
  • Include rich sources of B-vitamins in your daily diet that are crucial for eye health. These vitamins are important for reducing fatigue and stress that may result in cataract problems. Some good sources of B-vitamins include vegetables, brewer yeast, liver, and oily fish like salmon.
  • Bilberry extract is another great ingredient for preventing cataracts. Bilberry contains phytonutrients and antioxidants that help protect the eyes from problems like cataract.
  • You can also consume aniseeds twice everyday, preferably in the morning and evening, to prevent the formation of cataract.
  • Drinking a mixture of warm milk with cardamom powder is another great remedy for maintaining healthy eyesight and preventing problems like cataract.
  • Other herbs like gingko biloba, grape seed extract, garlic, and dusty miller are also very effective in preventing as well as treating cataracts.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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