Doctors use the medication isotretinoin or Accutane to treat severe acne or psoriasis 12. According to the PDRHealth, an online version of the "Physician's Desk Reference," Accutane should only be used in patients who have not had any success with any other acne medications 1. This medication can cause birth defects, miscarriages, premature births, depression or other mental health problems. Accutane can affect other parts of the body as well--including the eyes 1.
In some patients, Accutane can cause dry eye symptoms 1. For many, using artificial tears can improve the symptoms. However, if the discomfort, pain and foreign-body sensation does not improve with over-the-counter artificial tears and ointments, the patient should contact the prescribing physician, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society. Patients may not be able to wear contact lenses while taking this medication.
- In some patients, Accutane can cause dry eye symptoms 1.
Decreased Night Vision
Retin-A Vs. Tazorac
There have been cases of decreased night vision in patients who are taking Accutane 1. According to the Skin Therapy Letter website, this side effect is usually temporary but rarely can be permanent. Because the onset of the decreased night vision is typically sudden, patients should be warned of this potential side effect beforehand as noted on the Accutane product label 1.
Blepharoconjunctivitis is a possible side effect of Accutane 1. According to a 2004 article in the "Review of Ophthalmology" journal by Dr. Mark B. Abelson, Kevin Cohane and Kate Fink, the drying properties of this medication can lead to ocular surface problems like blepharoconjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of eyelids and conjunctiva.
Drugs That Cause Glaucoma
According to the product label, some patients who take Accutane can develop opacities in the cornea; when the medication was used in higher doses, the incidence of these opacities has increased 1. Typically, these deposits in the cornea resolve after the discontinuation of the drug.
Color Vision Changes
Changes in color vision are also another possible side effect of the medication Accutane, according to the Indiana University School of Optometry 1. These changes are usually reversible as well.
Accutane has been associated with a few cases of pseudotumor cerebri, or benign intracranial hypertension, according to the product labeling 1. Increased pressure around the brain causes papilledema, inducing swelling of the optic nerve head that can be seen during an eye examination. If this side effect is found, the patient should discontinue the Accutane at once and be seen by a neurologist 1.
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Drugs That Cause Glaucoma
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List of Medications to Avoid With Glaucoma
What Causes Light Flashes in the Eye?
Alphabetic List of Eye Drops for Glaucoma
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- PDRHealth: Accutane
- DoubleCheckMD: Accutane (isotretinoin)
- Skin Therapy Letter: Isotretinoin--Side Effects And Treatment Of Side Effects
- Production Information: Accutane
- Accutane Patient Information. Roche.
- Alikhan A, Henderson GP, Becker L, Sciallis GF. "Acne treatment and inflammatory bowel disease: what is the evidence?." J Am Acad Dermatol 2011 Sep;65:650-654. Epub 2011 Jun 24.
- Bernstein CN, Nugent Z, Longobardi T, Blanchard JF. "Isotretinoin is not associated with inflammatory bowel disease: a population-based case-control study." Am J Gastroenterol Nov 2009;104:2774-2778. Epub 2009 Jul 21.
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- Etminan M, Bird ST, Delaney JA, Bressler B, Brophy JM. "Isotretinoin and risk for inflammatory bowel disease: a nested case-control study and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data." JAMADermatology. 2013;149:216-220.
- Margolis DJ, Fanelli M, Hoffstad O, Lewis JD. "Potential Association Between the Oral Tetracycline Class of Antimicrobials Used to Treat Acne and Inflammatory Bowel Disease." 10 Aug 2010 doi:10.1038.
- Reddy D, Siegel CA, Sands BE, Kane S. "Possible Association Between Isotretinoin and Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Am J Gastroenterol 2006;101: 1569–1573.
- Thakrar BT, Robinson NJ. "Isotretinoin use and the risk of inflammatory bowel disease." Am J Gastroenterol 2011 May;106:1000-1002; author reply 1002-3.
Dominique Brooks has been a medical editor for over 10 years. She has worked in medical education for physicians, nurses and pharmacists as well as consumers. She started writing business articles for Work.com in 2008 and health articles online in 2009. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alabama and a Doctor of Medicine from Vanderbilt University.