Why do we ask for a list of medications including over the counter drugs and supplements during an eye examination? You may think that is something that just your primary care physician and pharmacist should be concerned with. There are two answers to this question. First, we are part of your medical team. We use our expertise to evaluate your eyes and relay information back to your primary care physician if we think there is a problem with any medications that are being taken. Second, a lot of medications affect the eyes so we need to be alerted to look for those side effects.
Even medications like aspirin can have potential ocular side effects. Aspirin is often used for pain relief, as an anti inflammatory, and is often recommended by physicians as a preventative for heart disease. Aspirin is an antiplatelet drug. This means that it makes it easier to bleed. People that take even a small dose of aspirin daily are more susceptible to something called subconjunctival hemorrhages. These are small blood vessels on the white part of the eye that bleed slightly causing a very red eye. Also, since aspirin makes it easier to bleed, an ophthalmologist may ask that aspirin be discontinued prior to any eye surgeries.
Antihistamines are commonly used medications to treat allergies. These medications can make the eyes drier. This can cause fluctuating or blurred vision, redness, burning, and tearing. They can also make contact lens wear more difficult due to dryness. People with glaucoma should consult with their eye doctor before taking some antihistamines.
Please be patient with us when we review your medications during an eye exam. We are looking out for the health of your whole body when we examine your eyes. We look forward to seeing you soon for an eye exam!
Dr. James Ivanoski practices with Dr. Martha Jay and Dr. Mark German at Lakeshore Eye Care with two offices in Ozaukee County (Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin). He specializes in general eye care with comprehensive eye examinations for patients of all ages and accepts most insurance plans.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.LakeShoreVision.com.