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Effects of Roaccutane on eyes
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 11 November 2020
What is Roaccutane?
Roaccutane, also known as Isotretinoin, is a pill prescribed to treat severe cases of acne and other skin conditions that can scar, such as rosacea or painful pigmentation. It is one of the only oral treatments for acne that has been proven clinically. This form of treatment has been proven successful, with adolescents and young adults reporting significant changes within 4 to 6 months.
Due to its numerous side effects, doctors will only prescribe Isotretinoin as a last resort. These side effects include a range of mild to severe problems, some of which affect vision.
Who can't take Roaccutane
You should not take Roaccutane if:
- You have previously had allergic reactions to the capsules or if you know that you are allergic to soya (contained in the capsules).
- You have a fructose intolerance as the capsules also contain sorbitol.
It is also highly important that you don't get pregnant while on Roaccutane as it can cause congenital disabilities and lead to miscarriage. Women are advised to take monthly pregnancy tests while on the treatment.
Those who have diabetes should speak with their doctor before taking Roaccutane as the medication can cause blood sugar levels to rise. In addition to this, your red and white blood cells may decrease, leading you to feel tired or weak while on the medication.
How Roaccutane works and its impact on vision?
Roaccutane begins to work correctly after a week to ten days, with 4 out of 5 people reporting clearer skin after four months. It belongs to a group of medicines called retinoids which work to reduce the amount of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in your skin. By lowering this oily substance, the pores in the skin begin to open, which helps to clear up the acne.
Unfortunately, Roaccutane doesn't just reduce the oiliness of your skin; it also causes your tear ducts and meibomian glands to dry out. The meibomian glands stop your eyes from drying out by secreting an oily layer. When these glands dry out, the result is dry eyes which can lead to blurred vision, conjunctivitis and reduced night vision. In more severe cases, it can lead to cataracts.
What are the side effects of Roaccutane?
Accutane, as it's formerly known, can have many common side effects, including adverse effects on the eyes. While treatment with Isotretinoin is popular, these side effects should be clearly understood before starting Isotretinoin. Common side effects of Roaccutane include:
- Aches and pains
- A dry nose which can lead to nosebleeds
- Dry throat
- Skin sensitivity to sunlight
Roaccutane can affect your eyes in multiple ways. The short-term side effects of Isotretinoin on your eyes include:
Roaccutane reduces oil produced by the body causing dry eyes. It's recommended to avoid wearing contact lenses and to use eye drops while on this treatment
In rare instances, Roaccutane can exert pressure on the brain, which can result in blurry vision. You should contact the emergency services immediately should you find your vision blurry.
Your eyes may produce more tears while on Roaccutane. This is due to the effect it has on the oil production in your meibomian glands. You may find your contact lenses are harder to put in and keep in place, and they should, therefore, be avoided in this instance.
Conjunctivitis or swelling
Roaccutane can cause redness around the eyes as well as swollen eyes, sore eyelids and bloodshot eyes, but usually, this clears up within a couple of weeks. To speed up the process, you can treat swollen eyelids using wipes such as The Eye Doctor Lid Wipes and avoid smoky and polluted environments.
Morning and night Vision
Roaccutane can reduce your ability to see at night and can even lead to night blindness. This is said to be due to the retinoids which can interfere with the formation of vitamin A in the retina. This nutrient is essential to your ability to see, and a reduced concentration can affect the rods and cones in your eyes, causing them problems with adapting to dark settings.
Fortunately, these symptoms usually appear in the first month of taking Roaccutane and can be treated with a course of Vitamin A. If you notice changes in your vision at night, you should contact your doctor right away.
The long-term effects of Roaccutane can cause more severe conditions on your eyes, such as the following:
Dry eye syndrome
This is hugely common amongst Roaccutane patients, but in rare cases, one may experience extreme dryness over a long period of time
In a few cases, patients have developed cataracts after taking Roaccutane. This might be linked to the inability to adapt and adjust to different lightings. If left untreated, cataracts can cause a gradual loss of vision which can eventually lead to blindness
You may also experience aching eyes as a result of some of the other effects that Roaccutane can have on your eyes. If you find that you have painful, aching eyes, you should speak to your doctor immediately to be sure this is not the result of a more severe condition
In addition to experiencing dry eyes, one may also experience dry eyelids and dry skin around the eyes as a result of Roaccutane. There is increased sensitivity to sun exposure, with risk of sun burn. This can be severe, so protection outside in bright UV light is necessary
Itchy eyes at night
You may notice your eyes become itchy as a result of dry eyes caused by Roaccutane and this may be more bothersome at night when you are lying still. The best thing to do is to avoid touching your eyes, stop wearing contact lenses and treat your eyes during the day with eye drops
How long does it take for Accutane side effects to go away?
The majority of side effects from taking Roaccutane go away within a few days or weeks after you stop treatment. In some cases, side effects can be more severe. If the side effects last longer than a few weeks or if you're experiencing some of the more severe side effects, you should call your doctor immediately. While most of the side effects go away after treatment for Accutane has been discontinued, dry eye syndrome can persist for two years.
Best eye drops for Accutane
At Feel Good Contacts we have a wide range of eye care products to help relieve dry eyes caused by Roaccutane. Our comfi Drops are a great choice of eye drops guaranteed to rehydrate your eyes and keep them lubricated for the whole day.
Using an eye mask in conjunction with these eye drops will give you optimal results. Our Thera-Pearl Eye Mask offers a therapeutic spa-like treatment for dry eyes. You can use this eye compress hot or cold to relieve the dry, gritty sensation.
Avoiding Dry Eyes
You may not be able to avoid dry eyes altogether while on Roaccutane, however, you can prevent them from getting worse by using dry eye treatments, swapping contact lenses for glasses, following an Omega-3 rich diet and limiting your screen time.