|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Dilated Pupils and Ritalin

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My nine-year-old daughter has been on Ritalin for six years now. I've noticed that her pupils are bigger than a normal person's. I also have a four-year-old who just went on the medication and now I notice that his pupils are larger than normal, also. I was wondering if this is one of the side effects of Ritalin.

A: Yes. One of the side effects of Ritalin is dilation of the pupils. The active substance in Ritalin is methylphenidate. It is a stimulant and has some of the same effects as adrenaline. It generally causes the heart rate to increase a little, and the pupils to dilate. The effect is transient, though. Once the Ritalin is out of a person's system, the heart rate and size of the pupils return to normal. If you look at your children's eyes first thing in the morning (before they take their Ritalin) you should notice that the pupils are smaller than they are later in the day.

There is no reason to worry about this side effect -- it does not cause any visual difficulties.

In general, any stimulant medication can cause this effect, while medicines that are sedatives cause the opposite effect: the pupils become smaller and constricted.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

7 Home Remedies to Soothe Cold & Flu Symptoms
The AAP does not recommend giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children under 4, so treating children's cold and flu symptoms naturally can be the best course of action. Read about some home remedies that might help.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

11 Awesome Thanksgiving Games & Activities for Families
Looking for fun Thanksgiving Day activities for the whole family? Check out 11 kid-friendly indoor and outdoor activities that will bring your family together in the spirit of the holiday.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!