Medications & Dry Eye Disease

Did you know that 62% of dry eye in the elderly can be attributed to medications? (source)

We've listed the most common offenders below:


  • Anti-Histamines & Decongestants

    • These cause your eyes to make less tears - leading to dry eyes

    • Examples include: Benadryl, Claritan, Zyrtec, Allegra

  • Hypertension medications

    • Especially Beta-Blockers & Diuretics

    • Both these medications lead to less tears being made

  • Birth Control & Hormone therapy

    • These can cause dry eye symptoms - especially medications that are estrogen only, as opposed to estrogen + progesterone

  • Pain Relievers 

    • Specifically NSAIDS like ibuprofen

  • Acne medication 

    • These cause certain glands (including the meibomian glands of the eyelid) to release less oil. Great for acne, not so great for tears!

    • Accutane is one example

  • Gastrointestinal medications

    • Examples include: Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, Zantac, Tagamet

  • Chemotherapy medications

  • Anti-depressants

    • These block signals between nerves which can also block the nerves on the cornea which are important for telling your eyes when tears are needed

  • Glaucoma medications

    • Yes, certain eye drops can cause dry eye.

    • Many glaucoma medications are preserved with benzalkodium chloride (BAK) which has been shown to be toxic to the corneal epithelium (top layer of the cornea). 

    • Talk to your eye doctor if you feel that this may be adding to your dry eye symptoms.  

NEVER stop a medication or change a dosage without consulting the prescribing practitioner. 

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