Steroid-Induced Glaucoma: The Silent Thief Of Vision

Visakhapatnam: Steroids are commonly used in various medications to treat inflammation-related conditions such as asthma, arthritis, and eye allergies. However, when misused, steroids can have detrimental effects on ocular health.

In particular, the prolonged use of steroids can lead to steroid-induced glaucoma, a condition that raises intraocular pressure and can result in irreversible vision loss.

In a study published by the LV Prasad Eye Institute, 2.2% of 4,062 children with ocular allergy were diagnosed with steroid-induced glaucoma. Alarmingly, more than 30% of these children had already become blind by the time they reached the hospital.

Most of these children were using steroids either without a prescription or for a significantly longer duration than prescribed.

“Steroids can be present in any medication, including eye drops, ointments, inhalers, tablets, and injections. However, steroids are also found in some non-pharmaceutical products, such as creams marketed for acne, itching, or skin lightening. Some products may contain steroids legally, but often lack proper documentation or labelling,” said Dr Divya Dangeti of the LVPEI’ Vizag and Dr Mayank Rai of the LVPEI, Vijayawada.

“Misusing steroids, particularly through prolonged use, repeated application, or high doses, can lead to various adverse effects,” said Dr Divya and Dr Mayank. “These include cataracts, especially with oral steroids, and glaucoma caused by increased intraocular pressure. Uncontrolled glaucoma can result in permanent vision loss.”

A limited study lasting four to six weeks found that 5% of people without glaucoma developed elevated intraocular pressure, a risk factor for the condition. The risk is likely to increase significantly with prolonged or repeated steroid use.

Doctors recommend a comprehensive eye exam for anyone using steroids in any form. If steroid-induced glaucoma develops, physicians can prescribe alternative medications and provide necessary glaucoma treatment.

Dr Mayank Rai and Dr Divya Dangeti said that the patients must ask their doctors if the prescription contains any steroids.

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