“Patients should be aware that there are a number of eye problems and infections that can occur from using certain acne medications,” said Dr. Da-Thuy Van, an Ophthalmologist at The Eye Clinic of Texas serving greater Houston & Galveston. “If you are using medication for acne and experience any of these problems you need to come in for an eye exam and tell us so we can help.” What do eye infections and acne medication have to do with each other? Recently, a study on eye infections and acne medication was presented in Archives of Dermatology where researchers collected data on nearly 15,000 teens and young adults taking isotretinoin to treat acne and compared their rates of eye infections to group that had acne but not taking the drugs and to a third group that didn’t take the drugs and didn’t have acne. Isotretinoin is also sold under the brand names Roaccutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan and Sotret.
Within a year of starting the medication, nearly 14 percent of those in the acne medication group developed an eye infection or dry eyes, compared with almost 10 percent in the group that had acne but did not take the medications and about 7 percent in the group that didn’t have acne. Compared to the acne-free group, those taking isotretinoin were at 70 percent increased risk of an eye infection over the course of a year. The mean age of participants was about 16.5 years old.
“The most common problem was conjunctivitis, an inflammation or infection of the membrane lining the eye and eyelids. Other problems included hordeolum or stye which is an inflamed oil gland on the edge of the eyelid, chalazion which is a tender, swollen lump in the eyelid due to a blocked oil gland, blepharitis-an inflammation of the eyelash follicles and dry eyes,” further explained Dr. Van.
Isotretinoin treats acne by reducing oil production from the sebaceous glands, among other effects. But isotretinoin also disrupts function of the meibomian glands, or oil glands inside the eyelids. The meibomian glands help keep the eyes lubricated. Less lubrication may mean the eyes are irritated, itching and burning, prompting people to rub them and introduce bacteria. “The good news is that most side effects of the drugs can be prevented using artificial tears to keep the eyes lubricated,” said Dr. Van.
If you or someone you know has a question about acne medication, eye infections or eye problems such as dry eyes, stye, chalazion or blepharitis please feel free to call The Eye Clinic of Texas at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.
The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area that provides all aspects of general, medical, surgical, laser and optical eye care services. Our Board Certified Ophthalmologists perform Laser Eye Surgery such as LASIK, Cataract Surgery & Lens Implants using advanced technology IOLs to correct complex problems such as astigmatism and near vision focusing problems including presbyopia, diagnosis and management of glaucoma, diagnosis and management of diabetic retinopathy, diagnosis and management of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Pediatric Ophthalmology. Texas EyeWear at The Eye Clinic of Texas provides personalized consultation and fitting of eyeglasses and eyeglass lenses for greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area patients.