Can Gabapentin cause double vision? (3 effects of Gabapentin on eyes) 

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In this blog post, we will answer the question, “Can Gabapentin cause double vision?”. Gabapentin is a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog and is used for the treatment and management of a number of health conditions. 

However, this medicine can cause a number of side effects including double vision. This blog will cover all there is to know about Gabapentin-induced double vision.

Can Gabapentin cause double vision?

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Yes, Gabapentin can cause double vision, a condition medically known as ‘Diplopia’. Several surveys have revealed that people have not just complained of double vision, but several other ocular problems have also been reported. 

Some people have experienced swelling around their eyes which made it difficult for them to open their eyes and see properly. Make sure you report any vision-related problem to your healthcare provider right away. Gabapentin may cause irreversible eye damage and it needs to be tapered off if it’s affecting your vision. 

What are the effects of Gabapentin on your eyes? 

Gabapentin can affect your eyes in different ways. They can include:

  • Diplopia/double images/ghost images
  • Macular edema
  • Visual fluid constriction 

Diplopia/double images/ghost images

As stated earlier, Gabapentin is associated with double images. Some people often call it ‘Ghost images’. In this condition, people see the shadow of the actual image or object they see and it appears as a ghost image or simply double images of the same thing. 

This problem can affect you in different intensities. Some people complain of a minor double image that may blend in with the original image and may not cause a lot of trouble. 

As they continue to see that way, the brain kind of adapts to the situation, and the double image slowly begins to fade away as their eyes get used to it. 

In severe cases, vision can get severely compromised and may cause other complications like dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, inability to focus, inability to read, etc. These consequences can significantly affect the quality of your life and it requires proper treatment. 

The first and the very basic approach of most healthcare professionals to treat this condition is to stop Gabapentin, which acts as the culprit medicine in this case. 

After discontinuation of the treatment with Gabapentin, your condition can get better, but there is no way to be sure how much of your normal vision will be recovered. Gabapentin affects everyone differently. 

Some people may recover from Diplopia after Gabapentin Withdrawal, whereas some people may only recover to some extent and not completely. The actual mechanism through which Gabapentin makes you see double is still unknown. 

Some research studies suggest that Gabapentin may affect your lens, one of the most important parts of your eye that absorbs the light that goes into your eyes. 

Some other researchers have suggested that Gabapentin may damage optic nerves to some extent, which can help with the contraction and relaxation of your eye muscles. This can contribute to double vision. To this date, the exact mechanism is still unknown. 

Macular edema

Not just Diplopia or double vision, Gabapentin can also cause Macular edema. A case study included a 71-year-old male who was presented with ocular disturbances. 

When the medication history was taken, it was observed that the man had been taking Gabapentin for quite some time now for the treatment and management of neuralgia. 

The rest of the medical history was clear and there was no probable cause of macular edema and Gabapentin was considered the main culprit behind this condition. The team of doctors decided to gradually taper off Gabapentin. 

When the med was finally discontinued, the edema started to go away gradually and the patient successfully recovered. There are several other similar cases that have also shown irreversible damage. 

One study concluded that Gabapentin is one of the leading causes of macular edema, especially in older adults and it can significantly affect their vision. Some may be able to recover after discontinuation of Gabapentin, while others are scarred for life. 

Visual fluid constriction 

Gabapentin is also associated with visual fluid constriction. This condition may increase the pressure of aqueous humor or intraocular pressure which may give rise to symptoms associated with glaucoma.

A case study included a 52-year-old woman who presented with neuropathic pain in the lower extremities. Her medication history showed the use of Carbamazepine, but the team of doctors discontinued this medication because of the side effects and put her on Gabapentin twice a day. 

Her initial dose was 400mg, but it was later escalated to 800mg and the frequency was also increased from twice a day to thrice a day. Her total Gabapentin dose was 1600 mg per day. This dosage proved to be quite effective in her case and it almost cured her pain. 

However, in about 8 months, she was presented with disturbed vision and lightheadedness. The examination showed signs of visual fluid constriction and later it was linked to Gabapentin. Her visual disturbance increased significantly as her treatment with Gabapentin continued. 

This led to her doctors switching her to another medication and Gabapentin was slowly tapered off. It nearly took 5 to 6 years for her to completely get rid of the ocular side effects of Gabapentin. There are several other studies in which people did not recover at all. 

This shows that Gabapentin is capable of causing irreversible ocular damage in some patients. This is exactly why any such side effect should be immediately reported. 

How to get rid of Gabapentin-induced double vision? 

The first and the very basic approach to get rid of Gabapentin-induced double vision is to stop the culprit medication. However, it is not recommended to stop your Gabapentin without your doctor’s approval. 

Gabapentin is one of those meds which are associated with disturbing symptoms upon abrupt withdrawal. If it’s time for you to stop Gabapentin then your doctor will suggest a proper taper schedule according to the duration of your treatment and the dose at which you currently are. 

Gradually tapering it off is the only way to ensure safe Gabapentin Withdrawal. However, proper diagnosis is essential before you decide to discontinue the med. There are several other causes of double vision that may be present in your body without you knowing. 

Even if you stop Gabapentin and the actual cause stays intact, you will continue to suffer from diplopia. This is why your doctor should be certain that Gabapentin is solely responsible for your ocular disturbance and there is no other possible explanation for it. 

Just to be on the safe side, let’s look at some other causes of double vision. Some of these include:

  • Unmanaged diabetes mellitus 
  • Cataract
  • Autoimmune diseases like Myasthenia gravis 
  • Problems related to the optic nerve or eye muscles 
  • Graves disease, which is defined as the malfunctioning of thyroid gland. 
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Aneurysms 
  • Haemorrhage 
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Migraine 
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor

There may be other possible causes of double vision that are not mentioned here. Before discontinuation of Gabapentin, you should rule out the above-mentioned conditions as they actively contribute to double vision. 

If any such thing is present then your doctor should immediately start the treatment of the actual cause of your visual disturbance and Gabapentin should still be tapered off as it might exacerbate the symptoms of Diplopia. 

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we have discussed Gabapentin-induced double vision, a condition medically termed Diplopia. Several surveys have revealed that people have not just complained of double vision, but several other ocular problems have also been reported. 

Some people have experienced swelling around their eyes which made it difficult for them to open their eyes and see properly. Make sure you report any vision-related problem to your healthcare provider right away. Proper diagnosis is essential for the treatment as we have discussed some other possible causes of diplopia as well. 

FAQs: gabapentin double vision 

What type of vision problems does gabapentin cause?

  • Gabapentin can cause double vision, a condition medically termed as Diplopia. Some people often call them ghost images. In this condition, people see the shadow of the actual image or object they see and it appears as a ghost image or simply double images of the same thing. 
  • Gabapentin can also cause Macular edema which can give rise to a number of visual disturbances, including blurry or unclear vision. It can also affect the focus of your eyes. 
  • Gabapentin is also associated with visual fluid constriction. This condition may increase the pressure of aqueous humor or intraocular pressure which may give rise to symptoms associated with glaucoma.

Does blurred vision go away with gabapentin?

Blurred vision associated with Gabapentin may begin to go away on its own as you continue using this medication and as your body adjusts to it completely. However, it might not be the case with every other individual. Some people suffer significantly which may lead to the discontinuation of Gabapentin. Make sure you report your side effects to your healthcare provider. 

What are the most serious side effects of gabapentin?

Gabapentin can cause some serious side effects. These include:

  • Suicidal behavior 
  • Impaired motor coordination 
  • Thrombocytopenia or decreased levels of platelets
  • Water retention
  • Rhabdomyolysis, a condition associated with the abnormal breakdown of muscles
  • Convulsions 
  • Swelling or tenderness in different parts of the body.
  • Allergic reactions associated with symptoms like redness of the skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of the chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness, etc. 

What can you do about double vision?

Proper diagnosis is essential for the treatment and management of double vision. There are a number of possible causes of double vision. In order to cure this condition, the root cause should be treated efficiently. Some of the common causes of diplopia include:

  • Unmanaged diabetes mellitus 
  • Cataract
  • Autoimmune diseases like Myasthenia gravis 
  • Problems related to the optic nerve or eye muscles 
  • Graves disease which is defined as the malfunctioning of thyroid gland. 
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Aneurysms 
  • Haemorrhage 
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Migraine 
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor

Are gabapentin side effects reversible?

Some of the side effects associated with Gabapentin are reversible and they begin to subside once your body adjusts to the medication. However, some people may take much longer to recover from the side effects, but they do eventually. In rare cases, Gabapentin can cause an allergic reaction which leads to the immediate discontinuation of this medicine. 

References 

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