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Study Finds Popular Antidepressants May Increase Risk of Cataracts

Study Finds Popular Antidepressants May Increase Risk of Cataracts


Some of the most popular anti-depressant drugs currently prescribed may cause an increased risk of developing cataracts, according to a study of Quebec residents. Researchers cautioned that their findings do not warrant discontinuing the drugs, since living with depression might be worse than undergoing cataract surgery.

Researchers from the Vancouver Coast Health Research Institute examined the medical history of about 18,700 Quebec residents 65 or older who had cataracts. The research showed that about 23 percent of subjects taking a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) developed cataracts. Study director Dr. Mahyar Etminan said the figure was 15 percent higher than the 20 percent of the general North American population that develops cataracts.

The level of increased cataract risk varied according to which SSRI formulation subjects used, according to researchers. Some caused nearly no increase, while the increase for other ranged from 23 to 51 percent.

SSRIs brand names include Prozac®, Zoloft®, Paxil®, Luvox®, Celexa®, and Effexor®.

Etminan noted that cataracts are easily treated and said that fear of them did not warrant discontinuing SSRI therapy, since depression can be life-threatening for some.

Researchers said their observational study did not show that SSRIs cause cataracts directly. They said other physiological factors may be involved and that clinical studies would be required to establish a definite connection between SSRIs and cataracts.

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