Medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder associated with increased risk of developing glaucoma

Eye (Lond). 2024 May 6. doi: 10.1038/s41433-024-03100-6. Online ahead of print.


Background: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) therapies including atomoxetine, methylphenidate, and amphetamines are some of the most prescribed medications in North America. Due to their sympathomimetic action, these drugs are contraindicated in patients with a history of angle closure glaucoma (ACG). This study aims to determine the risk of ACG and open angle glaucoma (OAG) among users of these treatments.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study with a case control analysis using the PharMetrics Plus Database (IQVIA, USA). We created a cohort of new users of atomoxetine, methylphenidate, and amphetamines and they were followed to the first diagnosis of (1) ACG or OAG; or (2) end of follow up. For each case, four age-matched controls were selected. A conditional logistic regression model was used to adjust for confounders and to calculate adjusted incidence-rate-ratios (aIRRs).

Results: A total of 240,257 new users of the ADHD medications were identified. The mean age was 45.0 ± 19.4 years and 55% of the cohort was female. Regular users of atomoxetine and amphetamines had a higher aIRR for developing ACG compared with non-users (aIRR = 2.55 95% CI [1.20-5.43] and 2.27 95% CI [1.42-3.63], respectively); while users of methylphenidate had a higher aIRR for developing OAG (aIRR = 1.23 95% CI [1.05-1.59]).

Conclusions: Use of amphetamines and atomoxetine had a higher risk for ACG, while use of methylphenidate was associated with a higher risk for OAG. Given the prevalence of ADHD medication use (medically and recreationally), our current data on their associated risk of glaucoma have profound public health implications.