A New Study Suggests Diabetes Drugs Can Damage Your Vision

Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar, Diabetes Complications

Not only can diabetes damage your eyesight, a new study suggests that one of the most popular classes of drugs used to treat diabetes further increases your risk of blindness.

The new study, published this month in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed more than 103,000 people with type 2 diabetes over the course of decade. Researchers found that those taking Avandia, Actos, and other similar medications had two to three times the risk of developing diabetic macular edema, fluid retention in the eyes that can cause blurred vision and eventual blindness.

One of the study’s authors suggested that the “treatment” for preventing macular edema isn’t to stop taking these dangerous drugs, but rather getting regular vision exams. He also suggested that blood pressure-lowering ACE inhibitor drugs can help to protect against macular edema. This is just plain ludicrous!

First of all, while this study was just released, this isn’t news. Back in 2007 I reported that Avandia can cause macular edema. At that time, a separate meta-analysis of 42 studies on this drug was rushed into publication in the New England Journal of Medicine because it concluded that Avandia also increased risk of heart attack by 43 percent and risk of death from cardiovascular causes by 64 percent.

What did the FDA do? Nothing, other than issue a spineless “safety alert” for a problem they’ve known about for years. In addition to Avandia’s adverse effects on vision and cardiovascular health, it is hard on the liver and can cause weight gain.

Since then, Europe did pull Avandia from the market but it’s still available in the US under “restricted access.” This means if you’re already taking it your doctors can still prescribe it.

Why am I telling you this? If you’re taking Avandia, talk to your doctor about getting off of it now. If you have diabetes, you are already at high risk of vision problems and heart disease—why would you take a drug that further increases your risk? Rather than simply switching to another drug, explore non-drug therapies that not only lower blood sugar but also protect against diabetic complications.
Diabetes is already the leading cause of blindness in American adults aged 20-74 years—12,000 to 24,000 new cases annually. Plus, it increases the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma. Why would you want to add macular edema to that list?

Now it’s your turn: What’s your opinion on this issue?

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DISCLAIMER: The content of DrWhitaker.com is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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