Doctors Warn That Over-the-Counter Cold Medicines Can Cause Severe Eye Condition

It’s cold and flu season, and while cold medicine won’t exactly make your cold go away, it does often relieve the symptoms enough that we can make it through the day without being too uncomfortable; however, most of these over-the-counter medicines contain an ingredient that might make you want to try some DIY cold remedies instead.

After taking over-the-counter cold and flu medicine, some people are waking up with blurry vision. At first, many people wouldn’t know that the blurry vision could be caused by their cold medicine. They might chalk it up to the cold itself or possibly to a migraine.

If you’ve been taking cold, flu or allergy medicine, and if your vision is blurry, stop taking it immediately and see an eye doctor. The medicine could be causing a form of glaucoma called acute angle closure.

According to Dr. Les Siegel with Glaucoma Centers of Michigan, “We’ve literally had patients laying on the floor in pain.” He says that “it’s one of the most painful events that they can have.”

Some cold and flu medicines contain an ingredient that’s classified as anticholinergic. There are a bunch of different active ingredients that are included in this category, so it’s best to check with your eye doctor to see if your go-to OTC medicine includes it. These ingredients cause your eyes to dilate, which is what can lead to acute angle closure glaucoma.

Acute angle closure glaucoma happens when your eyes dilate and fluid gets trapped between your iris and cornea in the process. The fluid causes pressure which leads to pain. If left untreated, the fluid can lead to vision loss. The only way to remove the fluid is it insert a needle in the eye to relieve the pressure.

We’d rather not have a needle in our eye, thank you very much.

While you’re at the eye doctor, get your eyes checked to see if you have narrow angles, which is what it’s called when the area between your iris and cornea is small. Acute angle closure glaucoma will most likely only affect you if you have narrow angles. You’re also more likely to get acute angle closure glaucoma if you’re 50-years-old or older, but it can happen to anyone.

While you wait for your doctor’s appointment, check your medication to see if there are any warnings not to take it if you have glaucoma.

For more details about acute angle closure glaucoma, watch the video below.

Has your vision ever been blurry after taking cold or flu medicine? Do you know if you have narrow angles?