Diabetes Drugs May Increase Risk for Eye Disease

A recent study echoed earlier research that the popular diabetes drug Actos may increase the risk of diabetic macular edema (DME).

The medication is currently under scrutiny due to mounting evidence that it also contributes to pulmonary edema and bladder cancer. Eye disease in those who suffer from diabetes is one of the most common causes of blindness among American adults, according to the National Eye Institute.

DME specifically is a condition in which the retina swells and thickens as a result of leaking blood vessels. Blurry vision occurs and worsens as the condition develops; DME can lead to blindness.

According to a study of more than 100,000 patients presented at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting in June, those taking Actos and Avandia—a similar diabetes drug that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered be pulled from pharmacies by this November—were three to six times more likely to develop DME than diabetics not taking the drugs.

The research, conducted by the University of Nottingham, indicated that patients who have poor control of their blood sugar or a previous history of macular edema are at an especially high risk for DME if taking Actos or Avandia. Those with these risk factors should talk with their physicians about the potential risks and other possible treatment options.

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