A recent retrospective study led by scientists at Harvard University has pointed out a potential risk associated with semaglutide, found in popular brand medicines such as Ozempic and Wegovy. The study suggests that semaglutide could increase the risk of a rare eye disease known as non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), which can lead to vision loss.

The retrospective study analyzed the health data of 16,827 patients, focusing on 710 individuals with type 2 diabetes and 979 who were overweight or obese. The analysis revealed that patients treated with semaglutide in the past six years had a significantly higher risk of developing NAION compared to those treated with other diabetic or weight loss medications.

NAION is a condition that affects approximately 10 in 10,000 people and is characterized by decreased blood flow to the optic nerve, leading to vision impairment. Symptoms of NAION include painless and incomplete vision loss, often starting with a motionless gray or dark spot in one eye’s vision. While vision loss can occur suddenly, some improvement may be observed once the swelling in the optic nerve subsides.

Individuals who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes are already at a higher risk of developing NAION. However, the study highlighted a notable difference in the risk of NAION for patients treated with semaglutide. As a relatively new drug approved for diabetes treatment in 2017 and later for weight loss, semaglutide’s widespread use has raised concerns about potential side effects like vision loss.

Researchers emphasize the importance of discussing the potential risk of NAION with patients considering semaglutide treatment. Further studies are needed to understand why semaglutide may increase the risk of NAION and to explore potential confounding factors. The current findings underscore the need for continued monitoring and evaluation of the safety profile of semaglutide.

While semaglutide offers significant benefits for managing diabetes and promoting weight loss, patients and healthcare providers should be aware of the potential risk of vision loss associated with its use. As research into the safety and efficacy of semaglutide continues, it is crucial to prioritize patient safety and informed decision-making in prescribing this medication.


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