Cataract Risks May Increase With Antidepressants, Anti-Anxiety Meds

We have long been writing about the <"">adverse effects associated with some antidepressant medication. Now, says the Vancouver Sun, some depression and anxiety medications have been linked to an increased risk of cataracts.

According to a study conducted by B.C. and Quebec researchers who utilized a database of over 200,000 Quebec residents who were 65 years old and over, a statistical link was found between cataract diagnosis or cataract surgery and some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), said the Vancouver Sun. The study was published in the journal Ophthalmology.

After adjusting for other risk factors, the possibility of undergoing cataract surgery was 1.51 times more for those taking fluvoxamine (Luvox), 1.34 times higher for those taking venlafaxine (Effexor), and 1.23 times higher for those on paroxetine (Paxil), said the Vancouver Sun; no related risk was found between fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), or sertraline (Zoloft).

A group of 187,840 seniors not taking these drugs was compared to 18,784 who were on the medications, added the Vancouver Sun, which noted that no adjustments could be made for smoking, which is known as a risk for cataracts, because that information is not included on the database. Of note, earlier studies involving animal testing revealed the same risk, said the Vancouver Sun. The study did reveal that it took about two years to develop cataracts when on SSRIs, but it remains unknown if the risk disappears when the drugs are stopped, said the Vancouver Sun.

Meanwhile, Danish researchers recently announced that expectant mothers taking antidepressants may be inadvertently harming their developing babies, wrote Reuters. The antidepressants, when taken by pregnant women, could delay some “developmental milestones,” said the researchers. Differences were seen in gross movements at six months between babies exposed to antidepressants in the second or third trimesters, said Reuters. At toddler age, the children exposed to the medications took about 16 days longer to learn how to sit and about 29 additional days to walk, said Reuters. According to Reuters, about one in six expectant mothers in the United States, is diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, with the majority treated with Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil.

Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that these medications target, and is linked to mood, attention, appetite, and brain development, noted Reuters. Medications that increase serotonin levels help minimize the symptoms of depression; however, it remains unclear how developing human babies react to these medications and for how long the effects remain, said Reuters.

Reuters recently reported that antidepressant medication might interfere with breast cancer treatments. According to researchers in Canada, interference could cause patients to relapse and die, said Reuters. In October we wrote that women taking SSRIs during pregnancy may be likelier to experience premature birth and that babies born to women taking SSRIs were likelier to be admitted to an intensive care unit.

In November, we wrote about a Science Daily article that discussed the likelihood of premature child delivery tripling in pregnant women with a history of depression and who take certain psychiatric drugs. In that study, researchers found that the medication-depression combination, when present before or during pregnancy, was significantly associated to childbirth earlier than at 35 weeks’ gestation.

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