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Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective procedures available today, thanks to advances in surgical techniques. But a new study confirms the findings of earlier research: Men using Flomax to treat symptoms caused by enlarged prostate are 2 times more likely to experience complications during and immediately after cataract surgery.

About 3 out of 4 men are diagnosed with an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) by the time they reach age 70. Flomax is one of the most commonly prescribed medications used for treatment. Flomax works by relaxing the muscles in the prostate and the bladder. That’s the most common use, but physicians also prescribe Flomax for some women experiencing urinary problems, relying on the same principle of relaxing the muscles in the bladder.

Flomax is part of a class of medications called alpha-blocker drugs. In addition to their effects on the prostate and bladder muscles, alpha blockers also keep the hormone norepinephrine from tightening the muscles in the walls of smaller arteries and veins. This causes those smaller blood vessels to remain open and relaxed.

That’s also the source of the problem for cataract surgery patients. Blood vessels that remain opened even when the body needs to close them off to heal the areas of the eyes affected by cataract surgery can lead to complications. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) both recommend that it’s best to undergo cataract surgery before beginning treatment with Flomax.

A 2005 study also found that men taking Flomax or other alpha-blockers before cataract surgery were more likely to experience complications during and immediately after the procedure.

The new study showed that 7.5 percent of the men who had taken Flomax in the 2 weeks before cataract surgery had a serious complication, compared with 2.7 percent of those who had not taken the drug. That makes it a 2.3 times greater risk.

Studies like this also make it especially important to disclose your full medical history as accurately as possible. Knowing that a patient is taking Flomax (or any other alpha blocker) — or even if he or she used it in the past — is very important before an eye surgeon performs cataract surgery. Our experienced eye doctors in Princeton and Hamilton, New Jersey can prepare for alpha-blocker patients differently by adjusting our surgical techniques in those cases, which can lead to much lower complication rates and optimal results.

If you’re being treated with Flomax and are planning on having cataract surgery, discuss your condition with the physician who prescribed the medication. You should never simply stop taking an alpha-blocker without talking to your doctor.

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