Visit Our Previous Blog Ocular Tuberculosis Part 1

These are actual questions from patients in the Uvea Clinic of Neoretina.

  • Can TB affect the eye?

    • Yes. TB (tuberculosis) can affect the eye, damage the delicate structures of the eye and cause loss of vision.
  • How did I get TB? Nobody in my family has TB.

    • TB bacteria are released in the environment if a person with TB coughs or sneezes. Each such droplet containing millions of bacteria is suspended in the air for several minutes. If you inhale these droplets containing bacteria, you might get infected with TB. Only 10 bacteria are sufficient to cause infection.
  • Can I infect other members of my family if I have eye TB?

    • Don’t worry, if you have TB only in the eye, you will not affect other members of your family. It is only when you have an active disease in the lung, can you infect others in the family.
  • Can I die from eye TB?

    • No, you cannot die from eye TB. It is a treatable condition. Only, untreated, active and severe systemic TB can be fatal.
  • Doctor, what stage of TB do I have?

    • There are no stages defined for ocular TB as such, but taking treatment early, i.e. before complications from the disease develop results in better visual outcomes.
  • Can I have a normal family life if I have been diagnosed with ocular TB?

    • Yes, you can have a normal family life if you have only eye TB, but if you have active disease in the lung, you should take the following precautions:
      • Keep your hand over your mouth when you cough or sneeze and keep washing your hands with soap and water.
      • Stay in a separate well-ventilated room.
      • Sleep in a separate room away from your family members.
      • Avoid close contact with others.
      • Do not go to work or school.
  • Will you be treating my eye TB at Neoretina or do I have to consult a physician?

    • Yes, I will be treating you with the anti-TB treatment at Neoretina and also monitor the disease response and side effects of medication.
  • Will my lung TB also get cured if I take anti-TB course correctly?

    • Yes, it will.
  • Is it a lifelong treatment?

    • No, the treatment duration is only nine months.
  • Why have you prescribed so many tablets? Is one tablet not enough?

    • TB treated with multiple drugs is more effective in killing the bacteria. Also, it helps avoid the development of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). This resistant form of TB is more difficult to treat.
  • Can I take the prescribed medicines throughout the day instead of morning?

    • No. Prescribed medicines should be taken only in the morning as advised by the doctor. This helps the blood levels of the drugs to peak at the same time and hence, it is more effective in killing the bacteria.
  • Doctor, there are too many tablets, won’t it cause increased heat in the body?

    • No, it doesn’t cause “increased body heat” or rise in body temperature. A doctor prescribes the medication only after checking your weight, so the dosage is in accordance with your weight.
  • What are the side effects that I may experience while on TB treatment?

    • Your urine will be orange coloured, nothing to worry about. You might experience nausea, vomiting and reduced appetite in the initial period. However, if it is excessive, contact your doctor. At Neoretina, we monitor the side effects with regular colour vision and blood tests for liver enzymes. In case you develop raised liver enzymes, resulting in nausea and vomiting, your doctor will treat you with additional medication.
    • Some patients may also develop a transient rash with itching. This can also be well managed with additional medication.
  • What are the foods to be taken or avoided during treatment?

    • A patient can take his regular diet; however, it is better to avoid very spicy or fried foods as it may cause further acidity and gastritis. If you’re experiencing nausea, vomiting, and reduced appetite, take small frequent meals, do not lie down immediately after a meal, eat bananas, avoid gas forming/ processed foods and avoid eating sweets and creamy desserts. It is important to drink a lot of water (10-12 glasses per day) and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Will you do surgery for my eye TB or only tablets are enough?

    • Generally, tablets are enough. Surgery is required in cases where complications develop. For instance: new vessel formation in the retina in cases of retinal blood vessel inflammation can cause bleeding in the eye. In such cases, if the bleeding does not resolve even after retinal laser, a vitrectomy surgery (removal of the blood surgically) is undertaken. If there is a cataract, cataract surgery will need to be done.
  • I’m not from Hyderabad, what if I miss an appointment?

    • If you miss an appointment or get delayed by a few days, do not stop the medication. There is no harm in taking the medication for a few extra days, but discontinuation or missing the doses is not advisable.
  • Can I go to work while on treatment?

    • Yes, you can if you have only eye TB because eye TB is not contagious.
  • Can I breastfeed while on treatment?

    • Though anti-tuberculosis drugs get secreted in the milk, the quantity is very minimal and you can breastfeed while on treatment. But you must inform the doctor that you’re breastfeeding so she can add an adequate dose of Vitamin B6 to your regimen.

To continue reading on this subject, visit our next blog Ocular Tuberculosis Part 3