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Study Says Two Diabetes Drug Increase Risk of Eye Disease

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Diabetes drugs Actos and Avandia may increase the risk of developing an eye disease that can lead to blindness, reported Bloomberg. A study to be presented Sunday at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting, reveals that patients taking either drug have a three to six times increased risk of developing diabetic macular edema (DME).

Actos and Avandia are known to increase the risk of fluid in the lungs and swelling in the legs; therefore, the study authors concluded “patients at high risk of sight-threatening DME should avoid” drugs such as Actos and Avandia. Those at high-risk include patients with issues controlling their blood sugar and those with a previous history of macular edema.

DME is a condition

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that causes the retina to thicken and swell, eventually leading to blindness. According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic eye disease is the most common cause of blindness in working-age Americans, reported Bloomberg. The Institute advises diabetics to maintain low blood sugar levels to prevent diabetes related side-effects.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement saying Actos was linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer in patients taking the drug more than a year. The agency’s warning was based on interim review of an on-going, ten-year epidemiological study. The five-year study results showed no overall increase risk of bladder cancer but an increased risk in patients with longer exposure and exposure to the highest cumulative dose of the drug.

Actos dominated the market “after a 2007 study showed a 43 percent higher risk if heart attacks with Avandia,” reported Bloomberg. In September 2010, the FDA issued a Medication Guide limiting the use of Avandia and now the agency is restricting sale of the drug. In May, the agency informed physicians and patients that Avandia will only be available through a special program starting mid-November.

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