Watch Out: Ozempic Might Improve the Threat of Eye Illness

The world’s buzziest diabetes drug might speed up the development of diabetic retinopathy, in response to a latest research introduced at a convention of eye well being specialists.

The outcomes, from a brand new unpublished research, had been introduced on the latest annual assembly of the American Society of Retina Specialists. They confirmed that GLP-1 receptor agonists, a household of medication that features semaglutide (Ozempic, Rybelsus), dulaglutide (Trulicity), and liraglutide (Victoza), improve the chance of growing extreme ranges of diabetic eye illness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a standard complication of kind 1 and sort 2 diabetes.

The eyes and retina have many small blood vessels which might be very delicate to excessive blood sugar ranges. An excessive amount of glucose within the bloodstream, the defining characteristic of diabetes, could cause these little blood vessels to swell and burst. When it will get unhealthy, the retina begins to develop scar tissue and new, dysfunctional blood vessels, each of which obscure imaginative and prescient.

Diabetic retinopathy may be very treatable — which is why annual diabetic eye exams are so necessary — however within the worst instances, the situation can result in declining eyesight and even blindness. Early remedy focuses on way of life choices (like nutritious diet and train) and optimizing diabetes medicine, but when these adjustments aren’t sufficient, ophthalmologists can deal with the eyes immediately with injectable medicine and lasers.

The easiest way to forestall diabetic retinopathy, in response to the American Diabetes Affiliation, is to get your blood sugar, blood strain, and ldl cholesterol underneath management. So it’s stunning that Ozempic and related medicine, which have highly effective metabolic advantages, may make diabetic retinopathy extra prone to happen.

Ozempic Advantages and Aspect Results

Typically it’d seem to be Ozempic (semaglutide) could be too good to be true. The injectable drug is a sport changer for weight reduction and one of the crucial efficient kind 2 diabetes medicines ever developed, resulting in dramatic enhancements in blood sugar, blood strain, and levels of cholesterol. Different medicine in the identical class, together with the GLP-1/GIP receptor agonist tirzepatide (Mounjaro), boast a few of the similar perks.

However there’s additionally little question that Ozempic has many uncomfortable side effects. A really excessive share of customers expertise some measure of gastrointestinal misery; different signs vary from the harmful however uncommon (together with latest reviews of abdomen paralysis) to the purely beauty (together with hair loss and the so-called “Ozempic face”).

Semaglutide, the lively ingredient in Ozempic, is highly effective stuff. It has a powerful impact on diabetes threat components, however we shouldn’t be shocked that it’d contain another physique adjustments, too.

Ozempic and Diabetic Retinopathy

As reported by Medscape, the brand new outcomes had been introduced by Ehsan Rahimy, MD, a professor of ophthalmology at Stanford College. Dr. Rahimy shared the highest takeaways from an unpublished retrospective research of greater than 13,500 adults with kind 2 diabetes who had been utilizing both GLP-1 receptor agonists or SGLT2 inhibitors. (SGLT2 inhibitors, one other class of newer diabetes medicine, can have related results to GLP-1s, together with decrease glucose, weight reduction, and coronary heart well being safety.)

Researchers discovered that these taking a GLP-1 had been about 50 % extra prone to progress to both proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) or diabetic macular edema (DME), each of that are critical levels of diabetic eye illness. They had been additionally extra prone to require interventions equivalent to injections and laser photocoagulation.

This isn’t the primary proof of a connection between semaglutide (Ozempic) and diabetic retinopathy. Based on Pharmacy Instances, one of many pivotal research of semaglutide discovered an elevated threat of diabetic retinopathy, and the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported {that a} considerably increased share of Ozempic customers have DR as compared with customers of different GLP-1 receptor agonists.

The proof isn’t unanimous. One massive research of semaglutide discovered no such threat, and one other research introduced on the latest convention of retina specialists discovered that albiglutide, beforehand offered as Tanzeum and now not out there, is the one GLP-1 receptor agonist that aggravates diabetic retinopathy.

If the connection is actual, it appears potential that Ozempic’s unbelievable effectiveness explains its unfavorable impact on the eyes. Opposite to all expectations, fast enchancment in glucose management can really worsen diabetic retinopathy. That is referred to as “early worsening,” as a result of the eyes will worsen earlier than the main long-term advantages of higher blood sugar management turn into evident.

A dialogue of the difficulty by specialists from the American Academy of Ophthalmology urged that early worsening from Ozempic is each “momentary and manageable.” However the specialists assert that this impact ought to be given elevated scrutiny from eye docs and will name for extra aggressive eye well being screening.


It’s potential that semaglutide (Ozempic), and maybe different GLP-1 receptor agonists, can worsen diabetic eye illness and speed up the development of diabetic retinopathy. This seems to happen even if such medicine sometimes ship spectacular outcomes (together with decrease blood sugar, weight reduction, and improved blood strain) that ought to enhance eye well being.

Consultants imagine that the advantages outweigh the dangers. However when you’re taking Ozempic and have any historical past of diabetic retinopathy, or different issues concerning the well being of your eyes, it could be clever to share your issues together with your physician or ophthalmologist. They could advise you to schedule a diabetic eye screening to observe the impact that your highly effective medicine is having in your eye well being.

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