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Can Prescription Drugs Cause Cataracts?

Can Prescription Drugs Cause Cataracts?


Yes, certain prescription drugs can cause cataracts.

More Info: In many cases, the cause of cataract development is unknown but prescription drugs such as corticosteroids, taken long-term, can cause cataracts. Corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce swelling, pain, and tenderness and can calm the immune system. Corticosteroids are often prescribed to treat lupus, asthma and many other conditions and can include medications such as cortisone, prednisone, and hydrocortisone.

Further Side Effects of Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids have both short-term and long-term side effects some of which can be serious.  Short-term side effects can include upset stomach, round face, high blood pressure, weight gain, trouble sleeping, irritability, increased blood sugar, increased hunger, stretch marks, increased or unusual hair growth, and poor wound healing.

Long-term side effects can include eye problems, poor growth development in children, diabetes, muscle weakness, and brittle bones.

Corticosteroids Precautions

Always take corticosteroids exactly as your doctor prescribes.  It can be dangerous to stop taking them abruptly.  If your doctor is considering taking you off corticosteroids, she will likely slowly reduce the dosage.

Other Medications Associated with Cataracts

Though the long-term use of oral corticosteroids has long been associated with cataracts, other medications may also carry cataracts as a side effect including psoralens, a drug used to treat skin disorders such as psoriasis, chlorpromazine, an anti-psychotic medication, and glaucoma medications.



“Cataract: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2010.

“Facts About Cataracts [NEI Health Information].” National Eye Institute [NEI], of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2010.

“Prednisone and other corticosteroids: Balance the risks and benefits –” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools


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