Antidepressants Now Linked to Cataracts, Blindness

Add blindness to the growing list of side effects caused by antidepressants like Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor and Zoloft. It is well-known that these drugs have been linked to suicide and cardiac birth defects, among others, but now, a June article published in the medical journal Opthamology, has connected these popular drugs with cataracts in the elderly, potentially resulting in blindness for those individuals over the age of 65.

According to Medpage Today the researchers opined that the link between these medications and cataracts is due to serotonin receptors found in the lens of the eye.

Researchers quoted in Opthamology claim that while the chances of developing cataracts are generally increased by about 15 % with an antidepressant, it is even worse for some specific kinds of antidepressants – Fluvoxamine (Luvox) increases the risk by 39 percent, venlafaxine (Effexor) increases the risk by 33 percent and paroxetine (Paxil) increases the risk by 23 percent.

And with 10% of the U.S. population taking antidepressants, even at just a 15 % increased risk, 22,000 Americans would theoretically develop cataracts as a result of their antidepressant use, the study authors noted, according to USNews and World Report.

However, the good news is that increased cataract risk is only associated with current antidepressant use, not prior use.