Weight loss drugs increase risk of rare blinding disease: Study – India TV

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Image source: Shutterstock Weight loss drugs increase risk of eye blindness, study finds

A recent study found a link between certain weight loss drugs and a rare condition that can cause blindness. These drugs, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, are often prescribed to patients with diabetes or obesity. They contain a protein called semaglutide that helps control blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production.

A study conducted by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in the US showed that obese patients taking weight loss drugs had a seven times higher risk of developing NAION (non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy), which can lead to sudden loss of vision in one eye.

Patients taking semaglutide-containing medications for diabetes have a significantly increased risk of developing NAION — more than fourfold — according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Ophthalmology.

“We did not have this information previously, and it should be incorporated into discussions between patients and their doctors, especially if patients have other known optic nerve problems, such as glaucoma, or already have significant visual loss from other causes,” said lead author Joseph Rizzo, MD, director of the Neuro-Ophthalmology Service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

Rizzo emphasized that the increased risk is associated with a rare disorder, and additional research is needed to understand the underlying causes of the link between weight loss drugs and eye disease. Therefore, Rizzo suggested that these results should be considered important but preliminary in nature.

NAION is considered uncommon, affecting 2 to 10 individuals per 100,000, according to a report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It is believed to be caused by decreased blood circulation to the head of the optic nerve, resulting in irreversible vision loss in one eye.

The researchers examined information from more than 17,000 hospitalized patients with diabetes or obesity who were given either semaglutide-based drugs or other medications for weight loss.

“Use of these drugs has grown rapidly in industrialized countries and has provided a number of important benefits, but future discussions between patients and their physicians should include NAION as a potential risk,” Rizzo said.

(With PTI inputs)

Also read: More than 7 percent of daily deaths in 10 Indian cities linked to PM2.5 pollution: Lancet study

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