Is There a Connection Between Flomax and Having Cataract Surgery?
Do you need to have cataract surgery and take Flomax? There’s a link between complications during cataract surgery and patients taking Flomax. Keep reading to learn more about this connection and what it could mean if you need to have cataract surgery!
Why You Could Need Flomax
Men using Flomax for urinary incontinence are twice more likely to experience serious risks, including lost lens, detached retina, and vision loss. Unfortunately, stopping Flomax use before having cataract surgery typically doesn’t help as the drug’s effect on the muscles in your eye can last for years.
Cataracts develop when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts typically start to form around age 40, but the symptoms aren’t as apparent until age 60.
Enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is also age-related. Enlarged prostates lead to urination difficulties like going to the bathroom at night frequently, a weak stream, feeling as though the bladder isn’t empty, and dribbling after urination.
To address the problem, a doctor may prescribe Flomax to control the urge to regularly and suddenly visit the bathroom, particularly at night.
Flomax blocks cellular receptors and relaxes the smooth muscle inside the prostate.
Taking Flomax can improve urine flow in older males with enlarged prostates. The same receptors are also found in the iris.
Your iris closes and opens to adjust the amount of light that reaches the pupil. When the receptors that control your iris aren’t open and get blocked because of Flomax, the pupil constricts.
Why Cataract Surgery is Necessary
If you’ve noticed an increased dependence on glasses, problems with cloudy or blurry vision, and glare is now disabling you while driving due to cataracts, it may be time to have your cataracts removed. Your ophthalmologist may recommend cataract surgery if cataracts make it harder to complete daily activities and compromise your safety.
Many patients with cataracts can live with them for years before needing them removed. Cataract surgery becomes necessary if you can no longer see to do the things you love.
What is Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS)?
IFIS is due to the effect of Flomax on the iris during cataract surgery. Intraoperative floppy iris syndrome caused by a loss of muscle tone in your iris when extracting cataracts is characterized by:
- A floppy iris that billows when irrigating the eye during cataract surgery
- Prolapse of the iris where your cataract surgeon creates an incision to break down the lens where your cataract is
- Gradual constriction of the pupil makes it more challenging for your cataract surgeon to remove your cataract
Flomax is the brand name for tamsulosin in a class of drugs referred to as alpha-blockers. For patients who’ve taken Flomax, the drug increases the risk of IFIS during cataract surgery in the following ways:
- Alpha-blockers stop the pupil from dilating and are responsible for the iris constricting
- Muscle relaxing causes the iris to fall out of place or prolapse
- The iris moves like a flag towards the lens as muscles relax because of fluid currents inside your eye
- The relaxing of the smooth muscles also leads to vitreous prolapse; the vitreous is the jelly-like fluid that maintains the shape of your eye
All these issues complicate cataract removal. Even if you took Flomax for only a short period or did so years ago, you may still develop IFIS during cataract surgery.
For this reason, it’s critical if you’re taking or have ever used Flomax to tell your doctor.
Managing Flomax Complications During Cataract Surgery
The iris is the colored part of your eye found in front of the lens. The smooth muscle controls its ability to close and open and its size. For your cataract surgeon to reach the cloudy lens and remove the cataract, they have to widen the iris.
However, the smooth muscle of the iris for patients who’ve used Flomax reduces in tone. A loss of muscle tone in the iris might not dilate adequately and become floppy, obstructing the cataract.
Because the lens with a cataract sits behind your iris, it’s essential to ensure the iris is out of the way during cataract surgery. Your cataract surgeon will take appropriate steps to help counteract the effects of Flomax and stabilize the iris.
For instance, your cataract surgeon can use expanding devices like the Malyugin Ring to hold the edge of your iris, manually dilating it as they remove the cataract. Your cataract surgeon can also prepare for floppy iris syndrome by applying local anesthesia and rinsing the inside of your eye with dilating solution.
Another precaution is prescribing long-acting dilation drops one week before cataract removal. Some surgeons use off-label ephedrine. Ephedrine is a neurotransmitter and hormone proven to improve the iris muscle tone.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that ephedrine used in cataract removal leads to positive outcomes.
These measures allow better visualization and access to the cataract, making the procedure as safe as possible.
Choose an Experienced Cataract Surgeon
Flomax can make it more difficult to remove your cataract safely. If you’re using Flomax or have ever taken the medication, inform Dr. Tokuhara before your cataract surgery.
Dr. Tokuhara at Desert Vision Center will take special precautions to ensure your safety and the best possible results.
Do you think you may need cataract surgery? Schedule a cataract screening and consultation at Desert Vision Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, to learn more!