AAO, ASCRS issue advisory to cataract patients taking tamsulosin

June 10, 2009

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) have issued a joint statement regarding results of a new study. The new research reinforces an advisory issued in 2006 that cautioned patients taking tamsulosin (Flomax, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc.) to treat prostate enlargement and urinary problems should inform their ophthalmologist about use of this alpha-blocker before undergoing eye surgery.

Fairfax, VA-The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) have issued a joint statement regarding results of a new study. The new research reinforces an advisory issued in 2006 that cautioned patients taking tamsulosin (Flomax, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc.) to treat prostate enlargement and urinary problems should inform their ophthalmologist about use of this alpha-blocker before undergoing eye surgery. The latest study found that the drug increased the risk of certain complications following cataract surgery.

Patients should be aware that taking alpha-blockers might increase the difficulty of cataract surgery. According to the AAO/ASCRS press release, although the alpha-blocker primarily is prescribed to men to treat prostate enlargement, some woman also take the drug to treat urinary retention problems. Other alpha-blockers are used to treat hypertension.

Ophthalmologists should be informed of patients’ current or past treatment with the alpha-blocker. Physicians can use this information to help them anticipate certain problems and employ different surgical techniques that help to achieve excellent outcomes. Patients should not decide on their own to discontinue use of their prostrate/alpha-blocker drugs without consulting their prescribing physician.

Before using an alpha-blocker for the first time, patients with cataracts should understand that these drugs can complicate cataract surgery later on. For this reason, they may want to discuss the risks and the timing of their cataract surgery with their ophthalmologist.

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