Medication Risks: Vision & Diabetes

Kozzi-big-eye-macro-shoot-442-X-293Certain drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of vision issues, according to a new study. The study is one of the largest performed to investigate vision problems that may be a result of a group of drugs that include both Actos and Avandia. The drugs themselves aid in protecting against diabetes complications and symptoms, however, they may lead to increased risk of macular edema or retinal swelling, which can result in potential blindness in both eyes.  Macular edema results when fluid builds under the center area of the retina of the eye. The fluid often thickens, thereby distorting the vision of the individual. The center area of the eye allows people to focus sharply on the colors and details of items that are in its pathway. Commonly known as diabetic macular edema, this type of visual loss can be prevented if caught early on in a doctor’s office.

The Archives of Internal Medicine conducted the study on more than 100,000 people who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes for roughly 10 years. The aforementioned medications were found to have a two to three times higher risk of aiding in diabetics getting macular edema, despite the low likelihood of that actually happening. 1.3% of the individuals studied who were taking one of the drugs had already developed macular edema, compared to less than 1% who were not taking medications to relieve diabetes symptoms.

One of the most fascinating factors of the study was that, when combined with insulin, the risk of developing vision issues skyrocketed. Though there were no definitive ways to determine that the diabetes medications did indeed lead the diabetics to getting macula edema, there was definite change in the blood vessels, and levels of sodium and fluid retention. Drugs like Avandia are often prescribed as a secondary measure, yet, based on the study, seem to create more issues that the diabetic does not need.

Macular edema can be treated with laser surgery if caught early. The particular surgery is often completed in one session. To perform the surgery, the doctor will place laser burns in the areas where fluid has built up around the center of the retina. Usually, if both eyes of the diabetic are affected, one eye will be treated at a time.

It is important to understand the types of medication you are taking. Gaining important insight from your physician, and in media such as books, can provide you with the information needed to best determine the proper route to control the complications and symptoms associated with diabetes. The disease is manageable with the right treatment, and with proper education on medications that are on the market; other issues such as vision problems can be thwarted. Catching any issues or side effects from medications early on can prevent permanent damage to your eyesight. Sometimes, depending upon the effects of medications such as Actos and Avandia, doctors may want to monitor your eyesight to ensure that the medications are doing what they need to do as far as the diabetes is concerned.

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