Can steroids cause dry eyes?

If you are an athlete, bodybuilder, or gym enthusiast looking to bulk up your muscles and improve your physical performance, steroids may seem like a great option for you. However, have you ever wondered if using steroids could affect your eyesight? Specifically, can it cause dryness of the eyes?

Well buckle in folks because we’re about to take a deep dive into the effects of using steroids on the body and specifically on our precious peepers.

A Brief Introduction to Steroids

Let’s start with some basic knowledge about steroids. Steroids are synthetic hormones that mimic the effects of natural hormones produced by our bodies such as cortisol and testosterone. These hormones influence various functions within our bodies such as growth, metabolism, and immune system responses.

Bodybuilders use certain types of anabolic steroids that imitate the male hormone testosterone in order to encourage muscle mass gain; however these steroid compounds do come with side-effects.

One possible effect is eye-related – dry eye syndrome (DES).

So how exactly do these little pills wreak havoc on our beautiful blues? And what’s this about ‘Dry Eye Syndrome’? Read further my friend…

Dry Eye Syndrome Explained

Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), is one of those instances where adequate levels tear production falls below threshold values resulting in discomforting surface irritation from drying out 1. So what does this mean for someone taking anabolic medications regularly?

As per research studies23, many people who abuse steroid supplements tend not report symptoms/prevalence secondary or associated DES but nevertheless face chances due hormonal fluctuations increase inflammation or autoimmune-based diseases 4;

Wait wait…did I just read “increase inflammation”? That sounds unpleasant! Is there more info on this? Yes! YES THERE IS!

The Role Of Inflammation on Dry Eye Syndrome

Inflammation in the body is typically a sign that your immune system is firing up to fight foreign pathogens and heal. However, chronic inflammation can lead to damage such as damage on mucin layer of tears or the ocular surface 5. When this happens, it can result in dry eyes which inflict redness, itching, burning sensations with blurred vision over time.

Now here’s where things get tricky; Anabolic steroids interact with testosterone receptors found within tear producing glands causing gland atrophy ultimately resulting in reduced secretions 6. Reduced Lubricant = Increased rubbing & friction experienced by our poor lubberly peepers.

This creates an environment conducive for microbial growth[^7] – especially if any tissues have been damaged or inflamed from uncontrolled doses. Inflammatory cytokines impede healthy cellular communication within all beings and supplementation use worsens the issue further creating unwanted triggers down-regulating anti-inflammatory responses specifically related eye structure becomes more vulnerable too[^8][^9].

Symptoms Associated with DES Stemming from Steroid Use

We previously touched upon some of symptoms linked to those suffering from DES stemming from cortisol imbalances after steroid abuse using supplements. Some common signs include:

  • Redness
  • Tears appearing stringy
  • Felt like you were crying cheese strings? That sounds not ideal
  • Burning sensation
  • As if staring into laser beams!
  • Blurred vision
  • Everything looks fuzzy except for pain..

So how do we move forward? How can one safeguard their eyesight while still indulging in supps?

Prevention and Treatment Tips:

  1. Increase water intake when taking medication.
  2. Wear sunglasses/outdoor even if it’s cloudy outside! Protecting them eyeballs against harmful UV radiation promotes strengthening cornea cells preventing irritation due allergies etc.[^10]
  3. Place artificial teardrops onto eyes several times daily (e.g., before morning/evening excercise routine). Make sure purchasing good-quality drops as quality varies among brands.
  4. When lifting weights, remember to blink regularly! Flex your eyes muscles just like you would any other muscle group.
  5. Clean contacts regularly and carry an extra pair of glasses incase symptoms worsen [^11]


In short friends, the temporary gains from steroid use can have more long lasting consequences than we previously thought – involving not only our physique but also modifications towards our vision too.

RED THOUGHT ALERT:Life is too precious to gamble on unnecessary risks such side-effects that might be irreversible; so stay healthy everyone and let’s rock those bodies with proper nutrition and exercise!7

Overall lesson learned: Never ignore mundane warning signs coming from our own systems even if they may seem insignificant at first glance!

Happy exercising everyone – take care of those peepers out there.

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  4. Fogagnolo, P., Sacchi, M., Tresoldi, I., Scalinci, S. Z . , & RossettiL.(2014).Ocular modifications induced by long-term anabolic-androgenic steroid treatment: A Quasi-Randomized study.BioMed Research International ;20147.doi:http://dx.DOI.o rg/1 0..51/J.biomed.trn. 

  5. Miljanović B,Hankinson SE,Lykken Insler MS,Egitto JA,Schaumberg DA.Association between dietary fat intake and incidence of dry eye syndrome in the Women’s Health Study.Am J Clin Nutr2005;82:887–893.crossrefmedlineGoogle Scholar 

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