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Side Effects Of Steroids On Eyes

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Consuming anabolic steroids could be harmful to your body. In addition, it may have several side effects on your body in the long term.

Steroids could damage the liver, heart, and other essential organs. Having said all that, another vital organ that might get affected is the eye.

As a result, if you are consuming anabolic steroids regularly, you might want to go through this article to find out the side effects of anabolic steroid consumption on the health of your eye.

While blunt trauma is the most common cause of eye injury in professional athletes, steroids may also damage the eyes if taken for an extended period.

Let us discuss specific issues in a detailed manner.

Types Of Eye Problems From Steroids

Some common types of eye problems related to steroid use are increased pressure in the eye’s orbital cavity, cataracts, corneal ulcers and infections, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.

Additionally, anabolic steroids may contribute to ocular surface diseases such as dry eyes. Although steroids are being used by thousands of people for their short-term benefits, they need to be aware that there is a host of other side effects when it comes to the consumption of anabolic steroids.

One such downside is an increased risk of eye problems. Steroid use, including long-term steroid use, has been associated with cataracts and glaucoma, which in turn may lead to blindness.

Additionally, certain types of eye problems may be caused by long-term steroid use such as radial keratotomy surgery complications that have led to corneal ulceration in patients on steroids.

Following are a few eye issues you may come across-

  1. Cataract

    Cataracts are also a common type of eye problem related to steroid use. Cataracts are caused when the proteins in the lenses of the eyes begin to break down and no longer work properly.

    This may lead to blurred vision, dry eyes, cloudiness, and even blindness if left untreated[1].

    Cataracts usually develop when people are older and have taken steroids for a while without knowing they were affecting their bodies this way.

    It is probably the type of problem that most people are familiar with within the context of steroid use. Cataracts are a clouding over the lens of an eye that could lead to total blindness.

    It is caused by an accumulation of protein in the lens which results in a loss of transparency and eventually vision.

    Steroid use has been associated with increased cataract risk but it is also common in patients who have had surgery on their eyes such as radial keratotomy, trabeculectomy or phaco trabeculectomy, lid surgery, or trauma to the eye such as blunt force trauma.

    Type 2 cataracts are the leading reason for blindness among steroid users and athletes.

    Steroid use is a significant risk factor for developing cataracts and the risk of developing cataracts is even greater in those who have been on steroids for more than 5 years.

  2. Eye Orbital Cavity

    One of the most common eye problems caused by steroids is increased pressure in the eye’s orbital cavity.

    This is often referred to as steroid-induced glaucoma, which occurs[2] when steroids are introduced into the body. The orbital cavity is located in the eye socket.

    When this area of the eye swells, it may put pressure on the back of the eyeball and cause glaucoma, which could be very painful.

    This condition may also lead to total blindness if left untreated.

  3. Corneal Ulcers

    Corneal ulcers are another common problem that could arise from steroid use. These ulcers occur when tiny tears form in the cornea, which is the clear tissue[3] covering part of an eye’s lens.

    These tears then lead to painful skin infections that may spread throughout an eye’s cornea.

  4. Increased Pressure

    Steroid use may also lead to increased pressure behind the eye. This could lead to glaucoma and contribute to retinal detachment, which is when the retina separates from the back of the eye.

    This is a very serious condition[2] that may lead to blindness if left untreated.

  5. Eye Deterioration

    One side effect of using steroids is the deterioration of the eye, which could lead to uveitis and damage[4].

    Though this may sound scary, steroids are overall very safe medications with few side effects.

    The risks of steroid usage are minimal, and if the result is increased muscle mass and reduced fat accumulation in your body then it’s safe to say it was worth it.

    However, if you experience any redness or pain in your eye or swelling around one or both eyes regularly then there is a high chance that you suffer from uveitis.

    So what do you do? Well first off get yourself checked out by an optometrist who will know how to make sure this issue doesn’t get worse.

    Then if you do have uveitis, you could take the following medications to alleviate the symptoms (eye drops are similar in function to steroid medication but not as severe).

    There are some great supplements on the market to prevent steroid use from damaging your eyes, however, their effects are limited.

    You may want to consider going low dose with a steroid rather than high dose with a supplement.

    Steroids are very safe medications when used properly, and the side effects that come with them will only last as long as you’re using them.

    If you’re taking a steroid like Anadrol to build muscle then that’s something you’ve chosen to do and the results will be worth it.

Side Effects Of Steroids On Eyes

The unwanted effects of steroids on the eye are divided into two categories: those that are temporary and those that last.

Temporary effects include increases in blood vessel width, alterations in the structure and function of the pupil, and changes in reaction time.

Permanent effects are more serious, including problems with glaucoma, cataracts, and drug-induced[5] ocular hypertension.

Steroids may have several side effects, but the most common[6] eye issue is known as steroid-induced glaucoma.

Steroid users are 1.8 times more likely to develop glaucoma than non-steroid users.

Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged over time, causing loss of peripheral vision and, eventually blindness.

While steroids are not the only way to develop this condition, they are one of the main causes that doctors associate with glaucoma.

Steroids could also damage your vision if you do not take them correctly. If you take them in the form of an injection, say with a needle, you are more likely to experience side effects.

And if you take them by mouth (say as an oral tablet or liquid) and do not swallow it completely, these effects are much more likely to occur.

When these steroids get into your eyes, they may cause several problems. Eye infections are probably the most common occurrence among steroid users.

If the steroid user has poor vision and injects the drug straight into his or her eyeballs through a needle, this problem is most likely to occur.

If the steroid is taken orally, this problem is much more likely to occur. It is not only eyewear that could get damaged by steroids, but also the eyelids and cornea.

While it is unlikely that you will notice any of these side effects if you are taking steroids correctly and frequently, from time to time you may be able to spot the symptoms yourself.

For example, if your vision changes dramatically or if you find it hard to read a newspaper without glasses or contact lenses, then this could be a sign that something is going awry with your body.

Types Of Steroids Side Effects On Eyes

Possible side effects of taking steroids can start to manifest immediately, or come on slowly as the result of long-term steroid use.

However, eye problems are one of the most common reasons people stop taking steroids.

Eye swelling is a common side effect that accompanies steroid use, which is why many people choose to undergo surgery to resolve this problem.

A lack of vision is another concern that comes with steroid use. In addition to the swelling, you can also experience blurring vision and sensitivity to light once you’re on these pills for long enough.

Other serious complications include blurred vision and an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP).

Some steroid users experience what is referred to as “steroid myopathy”, a condition where there is a buildup of lactic acid in the muscle tissues.

This can cause muscle cells to contract uncontrollably, which leads to pain and cramping.

Symptoms of this condition are often worse at night, in wakefulness, and in the morning. Some users experience severe cramping that can last days and even weeks.

Other side effects associated with steroids include eye problems, hair loss, skin problems such as acne, decreased libido, abscesses, and infections.

These may occur because of damaged liver cells, poor digestion, or even poor immune function while on these drugs.

Certain colors and patterns may be more likely to cause eye problems with steroid use.

Steroid users need to take extra care with their eyes because of the likelihood of eye problems developing, as well as the severity of these issues.

Because of this, steroid users may find themselves needing a new set of eyes one day.

While steroids don’t appear to cause permanent visual or eye damage in most cases they have been shown to have some serious adverse side effects that can affect your vision.

Conclusion

It’s important to know what side effects steroids may have on your eyes. The eye is a delicate organ that must be handled with care because of its dependence on a clear and healthy system of veins, arteries, and tissues.

With the rise in steroid use, more people are coming into contact with this drug; therefore, it is important to understand the potential risks.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Eric R James. The etiology of steroid cataract. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Oct;23(5):403-20. doi: 10.1089/jop.2006.0067. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17900234/
  2. Kaberi B. Feroze and Leila Khazaeni. Steroid Induced Glaucoma. Date of Publication: March 1, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430903/
  3. Mario Guslandi. Steroid ulcers: Any news?. World J Gastrointest Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Aug 6; 4(3): 39–40. Published online 2013 Aug 6. doi: 10.4292/wjgpt.v4.i3.39.
  4. Jing-Liang Loo, Shu-Yen Lee, and Chong-Lye Ang. Can long-term corticosteriods lead to blindness? A case series of central serous chorioretinopathy induced by corticosteroids. Ann Acad Med Singap. 2006 Jul;35(7):496-9. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16902727/
  5. Badri P Badhu, Balkrishna Bhattarai, Himal P Sangraula Drug-Induced Ocular Hypertension and Angle-Closure Glaucoma Asia Pac J Ophthalmol (Phila). 2013 May-Jun;2(3):173-6. doi: 10.1097/APO.0b013e318293c772. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26108110/
  6. Sonia Phulke, Sushmita Kaushik, Savleen Kaur, et al. Steroid-induced Glaucoma: An Avoidable Irreversible Blindness J Curr Glaucoma Pract. 2017 May-Aug; 11(2): 67–72.Published online 2017 Aug 5. doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-l0028-1226

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