If it wasn’t bad enough that as you age your chances of developing various eye diseases increase, now if you are older and take antidepressants, your chances of developing certain eye diseases also increase. One eye disease that has been linked to age, health, and the use of antidepressants is called abnormal binocular vision.
What is Abnormal Binocular Vision?
Binocular vision is the ability to see things in focus with both eyes working together to create one image. When you have abnormal binocular vision, something goes wrong that disallows the eyes to work together, which can cause vision problems like distorted depth perceptions and the ability to judge distances with your eyes.
It has been determined in a new study by the University of Waterloo that about 27 percent of adults in their 60s have some kind of binocular vision disorder. For people over the age of 80, that number increases to about 38 percent.
Out of the general population, including people of all ages, about 20 percent have a binocular vision disorder. Because abnormal binocular vision can cause problems with depth perceptions and visualizing distances, the risk of falling increases in those people suffering from this disorder.
This increased risk of falling may be what is to blame for all the seniors who do stumble and fall quite often. Many people associate their falling with old age or weakened bones, but maybe it is due to the fact that these seniors have binocular vision disorders.
While there have been numerous individual studies done on binocular vision, age, health, and even antidepressants, but this is the very first study that has been done that shows the connection between age, health, antidepressant use and loss of binocular vision.
Researchers stress that one does not necessarily cause the other, but just that they are co-existing. They go on to say that some people with vision problems may be more likely to take antidepressants or make choices that harm their general health, and that could be how they are all linked together.
The study indicates that binocular vision disorder in older and elderly people is higher than they had expected. However, binocular vision disorders can be treated with vision therapy, corrective lenses, and sometimes even with surgery.
Findings from Other Studies
Other studies have been done on antidepressant use and eye health and it has been discovered that antidepressants can also be linked to cataracts.
One study in particular looked at the relationship between antidepressants and eye diseases. Researchers studied the medical records of over 19,000 people who were 65 and older and who had heart disease. When they compared the findings from that group of people to the control group of people, it was discovered that the risk of developing cataracts was increased by about 15 percent when the people were also taking SSRI antidepressants, which totals to about 22,000 cases.
The antidepressants that showed the highest effect on cataract risk were Paxil or paroxetine with a 23 percent increase; Effexor or venlafaxine with a 33 percent increase; and Luvox or fluvoxamine with a 39 percent increase. These are considerable cataract risk increases and due to these findings, researchers suggest that it might be necessary to inform seniors who are taking SSRIs that cataract risk is one of the side effects of taking those particular antidepressants.
Antidepressants and Blurred Vision
Blurred vision is a side effect of some antidepressants, though it is a rare side effect. Many people have reported having vision changes such as blurred vision since starting on antidepressants and the only thing they were able to do to stop the blurred vision was discontinue the medication.
Dry eyes are another side effect of a variety of medications including antidepressants. This isn’t a major eye issue and can be remedied using eye drops or by switching or stopping the medication that is causing it.
Dry eye and blurred vision can also occur for a number of other reasons, so if you are on antidepressants and you experience either of these vision problems, it would be wise to try and rule out other causes of the problems. For instance, blurred vision can also be caused due to the onset of cataracts, from diabetes, and a variety of other health issues. Dry eyes can be caused by lack of sleep, stress, illnesses, aging and other reasons.
Before assuming that it’s the antidepressants causing these and other vision problems, eliminate what is not causing the problems to narrow down the source. If it happens to be the antidepressants, speak with your health care provider about possibly switching medications or coming up with a solution to fix the vision problems while still taking the medication.
Taking Care of Your Eye Health
Because age and general health play such a big role in the health of your eyes, it’s important to take care of your entire body and overall health, in addition to paying some special attention to your eye health. You can start by changing your diet and eating only foods that are healthy for you. You will improve your body and eye health by eating better and taking care of yourself.
You might also consider taking some kind of daily vitamin to provide your body and your eyes with additional sources of nutrients that are beneficial to you. There are certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are beneficial to your eyes in particular.
Some vision changes will be unavoidable as you age simply because it’s a natural part of the aging process. However, you can keep your eyes as healthy for a long time if you take care of them properly.