Blindness Risk Connected to Semaglutide Drugs for Diabetics and Obese Individuals – Study

Boston, Massachusetts – A recent study suggests that individuals with diabetes or obesity who take medications such as Ozempic or Wegovy may have a higher risk of developing a rare form of blindness called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). While this potential side effect is concerning, experts urge patients not to discontinue their medication without consulting their healthcare provider.

Last summer, doctors at Mass Eye and Ear in Boston observed an unusual surge in patients diagnosed with NAION, a condition that causes sudden vision loss in one eye. Upon further investigation, they found a possible link between the use of semaglutide medications and the development of NAION. Additionally, individuals with diabetes were over four times more likely to develop NAION if taking semaglutide, while those who were overweight or obese were over seven times more likely.

Published in the JAMA Ophthalmology journal, the study acknowledges limitations in its ability to definitively prove causation between semaglutide medications and NAION due to the small sample size from one medical center. However, the findings emphasize the importance of further research in a larger and more diverse population to understand the potential risks associated with these medications.

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of semaglutide medications, underscored the need for more comprehensive data before establishing a causal link between their products and NAION. Despite the rising popularity of semaglutide prescriptions in the United States, experts reassure that the absolute risk of developing NAION remains relatively uncommon.

Lead researcher Dr. Joseph Rizzo from Mass Eye and Ear encourages open communication between patients and healthcare providers regarding the potential risks of NAION when considering semaglutide medications. As discussions continue, experts suggest that patients remain vigilant for any visual changes and consult an ophthalmologist if necessary, especially those with preexisting optic nerve conditions.

While the exact mechanism of the interaction between semaglutides and the eyes is not fully understood, individuals are advised to monitor their vision regularly and report any changes to their healthcare provider. The ongoing exploration of the link between semaglutide use and diabetic retinopathy further underscores the importance of comprehensive monitoring and communication between patients and healthcare professionals.