Diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos may cause vision problems as severe as blindness according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Both have been linked to macular edema, the swelling of the central portion of the retina in individuals with type II diabetes.
Both diabetes drugs have been in the news for other serious side effects. Actos has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer while Avandia has been linked to heart attack and cardiovascular complications.
Common symptoms of macular edema include blurred vision, changes in the appearance of colors and the existence of 'floaters' in your field of vision.
The study was a 10-year effort, following 100,000 patients and monitoring the risks associated with Actos and Avandia use. Individuals who used either Actos or Avandia had a 2 to 3 times greater risk of developing macular edema than those who did not. Using either drug along with an insulin regimen further increased the likelihood of developing vision problems. There was a decrease in the occurrence of macular edema in those who took aspirin or an ACE inhibitor while taking Actos or Avandia.
The study did not take into account whether prolonged use of Actos or Avandia was related to the occurrence of macular edema nor whether the length of time a person had suffered from diabetes played a role in developing the noted eye and vision problems.
Avandia, or rosiglitazone, is no longer available in Europe and a restricted access program has been implemented in the United States.
Source: MedPage Today, "Avandia, Actos May Raise Risk of Macular Edema," Crystal Phend, June 11, 2012