Flomax is often prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which affects almost three of four men 70 and older. Symptoms include difficulty urinating. Flomax accounted for $1 billion in sales in 2007, according to the researchers.
Dr. David F. Chang, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Francisco, said that the study strengthens the existing evidence about risks associated with taking Flomax before cataract surgery.
Most doctors who perform cataract surgery, Chang said, would not start taking the drug themselves if they knew they were likely to need cataract surgery. "If we ophthalmologist were patients, we would want to hear about some of the options," he said. "If I needed cataract surgery, I might want to put off taking any alpha-blocker or possibly take another drug."
Chang was a researcher on the original study that linked Flomax with cataract surgery complications, and "this study supports the observations we laid out," he said.
But, he said, because the risks of complications are relatively small, men who are already taking Flomax should not stop taking the drug and should not be afraid to undergo cataract surgery. "The risks are acceptable," he said. "On the other hand, it would be a shame to have a patient start on an elective medicine like Flomax within a few months of when they need cataract surgery."
The U.S. National Eye Institute has more on cataracts.
SOURCES: Chaim M. Bell, M.D., Ph.D., scientist, Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, and assistant professor, University of Toronto; David F. Chang, M.D., clinical professor, ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Susan Holz, spokeswoman, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Ridgefield, Conn.; May 20, 2009, Journal of the American Medical Association