“What do eye infections and acne medication have to do with each other?,” asked Cornea Specialist Joel Confino, M.D. of The Eye Care & Surgery Center in Westfield, Warren & Iselin, New Jersey. “Recently, a study on eye infections and acne medication was presented in Archives of Dermatology where researchers collected data on nearly 15,000 teens and young adults taking isotretinoin to treat acne and compared their rates of eye infections to group that had acne but not taking the drugs and to a third group that didn't take the drugs and didn't have acne,” stated Dr. Confino. Isotretinoin is also sold under the brand names Roaccutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan and Sotret.
Within a year of starting the medication, nearly 14 percent of those in the acne medication group developed an eye infection or dry eyes, compared with almost 10 percent in the group that had acne but did not take the medications and about 7 percent in the group that didn't have acne. Compared to the acne-free group, those taking isotretinoin were at 70 percent increased risk of an eye infection over the course of a year. The mean age of participants was about 16.5 years old.“The most common problem was conjunctivitis, an inflammation or infection of the membrane lining the eye and eyelids. Other problems included hordeolum or stye which is an inflamed oil gland on the edge of the eyelid, chalazion which is a tender, swollen lump in the eyelid due to a blocked oil gland, blepharitis-an inflammation of the eyelash follicles and dry eyes,” further explained Dr. Confino.
Isotretinoin treats acne by reducing oil production from the sebaceous glands, among other effects. But isotretinoin also disrupts function of the meibomian glands, or oil glands inside the eyelids. The meibomian glands help keep the eyes lubricated. Less lubrication may mean the eyes are irritated, itching and burning, prompting people to rub them and introduce bacteria. “The good news is that most side effects of the drugs can be prevented using artificial tears to keep the eyes lubricated,” said Dr. Confino.
If you or someone you know has a question about acne medication, eye infections or eye problems such as dry eyes, stye, chalazion or blepharitis please feel free to call The Eye Care & Surgery Center at 908-789-8999, visit The Eye Care & Surgery Center or facebook.com/eyecareandsurgerycenter to schedule an appointment.
The Eye Care & Surgery Center is a leading New Jersey eye care practice with offices at 592 Springfield Avenue, Westfield, New Jersey 07090, 10 Mountain Boulevard, Warren, New Jersey 07059 and 517 Route One South, Suite 1100, Iselin, New Jersey 08830.