(June 13, 2012) – A recent study published on June 11th in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that use of thiazolidinediones (TZDs), a class of drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes, which includes Avandia and Actos, may include the risk of vision problems. The study followed 103,000 people for ten years and found that:
– Participants taking one of the medications were two-to-three times more at risk of developing macular edema, a swelling in the central part of the retina, which can lead to blindness (although the likelihood of developing the disease was small).
– 1.3 percent of participants taking one of the medications developed macular edema, compared to a rate of 0.2 percent among participants not taking either medication.
– Combining the drugs with insulin further increased the risk.
Dr. Iskander Idris, one of the study’s authors and a consultant in diabetes and endocrinology at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust in England, speculated one reason the drugs may cause damage to the retina is because of greater sodium and fluid retention or changes in the blood vessels. Dr. Idris suggests that people who take one of these drugs should have their vision checked regularly, especially if they are also taking insulin or have a history of visual issues.
Macular edema occurs when fluid and protein deposits collect on or under the macula of the eye, which is an area on the retina, and causes it to thicken and swell, causing distortion of vision.
This is not the first time Avandia and Actos have been scrutinized. Recent studies have confirmed links between Actos usage and bladder cancer. Avandia usage has been linked to an increase in heart attacks. Consumer Reports says Actos, made by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, is linked to congestive heart failure, bone fractures, and bladder cancer and is a danger to all patients. If you are taking these drugs for diabetes, the publication suggests you ask your doctor if there are safer drugs that would do the same job such as metformin, glipizide or glimepiride, which have been around longer and have fewer consumer complaints.
Unfortunately, the risks diabetic drug users are faced with as a result of their prescription medications, continues to grow.
Many of the people affected by this have said that if they had just been told about the complications and risks, they would have saved their lives and their vision and taken some of the older, more reliable diabetic medications.