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Patient Advocacy Issues Advisory to Prostate Patients Considering Lasik Alternative

Concerns about Flomax interactions are the same for Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) and cataract surgery.


SACRAMENTO, Aug 22 , 2006 /PRNEWSWIRE/ Patients who are using Flomax for treatment of prostate enlargement and are considering Refractive Lens Exchange – an alternative to Lasik laser eye surgery – need to notify their eye doctor they are taking or have taken the drug, according to the Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance (USAEyes), a nonprofit patient advocacy.

“Our advisory relates directly to a recent joint statement from the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Urological Association (AUA) that raises concerns for cataract patients,” says Glenn Hagele, Executive Director of USAEyes. “Refractive Lens Exchange is exactly the same as cataract surgery and the same concerns apply. The only difference between the surgeries is the reason for the surgery.”

Cataracts are a gradual clouding of the natural lens of the eye, commonly associated with aging. Refractive Lens Exchange is an alternative to Lasik, the popular laser eye surgery to reduce the need for corrective lenses. Refractive Lens Exchange may be recommended for patients at or past middle age or who have extremely poor vision. “Like cataract surgery, Refractive Lens Exchange removes the natural lens within the eye and replaces it with an artificial lens that reduces or eliminates the need for glasses and contacts.”

According to the ASCRS, AAO, AUA joint statement, “Tamsulosin (Flomax(R)) is the most commonly prescribed drug for prostate enlargement, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). By facilitating more complete emptying of the bladder, Flomax decreases the need to urinate during the middle of the night. However, Flomax and other similar systemic drugs called alpha-blockers can potentially cause difficulty during cataract surgery, particularly if the eye surgeon has not been forewarned. Other drugs in this alpha-blocker class include, terazosin (Hytrin(R)), doxazosin (Cardura(R)), and alfuzosin (Uroxatral(R)).”

A study published in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery identified a potential problem that occurs during cataract/Refractive Lens Exchange surgery in patients using Flomax. Eye drops administered during cataract/Refractive Lens Exchange surgery constrict the iris (colored portion of eye) to enlarge the pupil. The study indicates that the combination of certain alpha-blocker drugs used for prostrate treatment and drops used to enlarge the pupil can cause irregular iris behavior during surgery. This irregular behavior is termed Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS). If notified of the use of alpha-blocker medication in advance, the eye surgeon can limit this irregularity without adverse effect on the patient.

“Because cataract surgery and Refractive Lens Exchange are essentially the same surgery but for different purposes, patients considering Refractive Lens Exchange as well as cataract surgery need to be especially diligent about notifying their eye doctor of the use of these prostate medications,” advises Hagele.

The Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance is a nonprofit nongovernmental patient advocacy organization that evaluates and certifies doctors who perform surgery to reduce the need for corrective lenses.

CONTACT: Glenn Hagele, Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance, 800/872-3937,,

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