Watch Out: Ozempic May Increase the Risk of Eye Disease

The world’s buzziest diabetes drug could speed up the development of diabetic retinopathy, in line with a current examine offered at a convention of eye well being consultants.

The outcomes, from a brand new unpublished examine, had been offered at the current annual assembly of the American Society of Retina Specialists. They confirmed that GLP-1 receptor agonists, a household of medicine that features semaglutide (Ozempic, Rybelsus), dulaglutide (Trulicity), and liraglutide (Victoza), improve the danger of creating extreme ranges of diabetic eye illness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

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

The eyes and retina have many small blood vessels which can be very delicate to excessive blood sugar ranges. Too a lot glucose in the bloodstream, the defining characteristic of diabetes, could cause these little blood vessels to swell and burst. When it will get dangerous, 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 vital — however in the worst instances, the situation can result in declining eyesight and even blindness. Early therapy focuses on way of life choices (like nutritious diet and train) and optimizing diabetes medicine, but when these modifications aren’t sufficient, ophthalmologists can deal with the eyes instantly with injectable medicine and lasers.

The finest technique to forestall diabetic retinopathy, in line with the American Diabetes Association, is to get your blood sugar, blood strain, and ldl cholesterol underneath management. So it’s stunning that Ozempic and comparable medicine, which have highly effective metabolic advantages, may make diabetic retinopathy extra more likely to happen.

Ozempic Benefits and Side Effects

Sometimes it’d look like Ozempic (semaglutide) could be too good to be true. The injectable drug is a sport changer for weight reduction and one of the handiest sort 2 diabetes medicines ever developed, resulting in dramatic enhancements in blood sugar, blood strain, and levels of cholesterol. Other medicine in the identical class, together with the GLP-1/GIP receptor agonist tirzepatide (Mounjaro), boast some of the identical perks.

But there’s additionally little doubt that Ozempic has many unintended effects. A really excessive proportion of customers expertise some measure of gastrointestinal misery; different signs vary from the harmful however uncommon (together with current stories 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 danger elements, however we shouldn’t be shocked that it’d contain another physique modifications, too.

Ozempic and Diabetic Retinopathy

As reported by Medscape, the new outcomes had been offered by Ehsan Rahimy, MD, a professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University. Dr. Rahimy shared the high takeaways from an unpublished retrospective examine of greater than 13,500 adults with sort 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 comparable 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 more likely 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 more likely to require interventions akin to injections and laser photocoagulation.

This just isn’t the first proof of a connection between semaglutide (Ozempic) and diabetic retinopathy. According to Pharmacy Times, one of the pivotal research of semaglutide discovered an elevated danger of diabetic retinopathy, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported considerably greater proportion of Ozempic customers have DR as compared with customers of different GLP-1 receptor agonists.

The proof isn’t unanimous. One massive examine of semaglutide discovered no such danger, and one other examine offered at the current convention of retina specialists discovered that albiglutide, beforehand bought as Tanzeum and not out there, is the solely GLP-1 receptor agonist that aggravates diabetic retinopathy.

If the connection is actual, it appears attainable that Ozempic’s unimaginable effectiveness explains its damaging impact on the eyes. Contrary to all expectations, fast enchancment in glucose management can truly worsen diabetic retinopathy. This known 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 challenge by consultants from the American Academy of Ophthalmology advised that early worsening from Ozempic is each “temporary and manageable.” But the consultants assert that this impact must be given elevated scrutiny from eye medical doctors and should name for extra aggressive eye well being screening.


It is feasible 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 regardless of the proven fact that such medicine sometimes ship spectacular outcomes (together with decrease blood sugar, weight reduction, and improved blood strain) that ought to enhance eye well being.

Experts consider that the advantages outweigh the dangers. But in case you’re taking Ozempic and have any historical past of diabetic retinopathy, or different issues about the well being of your eyes, it could be sensible to share your issues along 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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Read extra about American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetic retinopathy, train, eye well being, eye screening, GLP-1, Intensive administration, Ozempic (semaglutide), retinopathy, SGLT-2, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).