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Diabetes Drug May Cause Eye Problems

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and drug company GIaxoSmithKline (GSK) are alerting doctors about rare reports of worsening eye complications in diabetic patients who are taking the drugs Avandia or Avandamet.

Early this year, GSK sent letters to doctors citing “very rare” reports of macular edema which results from fragile and leakingblood vessels in the eye which may cause blurry vision. FDA and GSK advice patients taking the two medicines to let their doctors know if they experience any changes in their vision such as blurring, decreased color sensitivity, or a change in the ability to see in the dark.

Both Avandia and Avandamet contain the drug rosiglitazone, and are used to treat type 2 diabetes. Avandamet also contains a second drug called metformin. The GSK letter sent to doctors contain the following points:

  • The reports are “very rare.”
  • Most patients also reported swelling in their legs and feet (peripheral edema) at the same time.
  • In some cases the macular edema stopped or improved when patients stopped taking the drugs.
  • In one case, macula edema stopped when the drug’s dose was reduced.

Swelling is a common complication of diabetes, including swelling or edema of the back layer of the eyes, which contains blood vessels that can become damaged and fragile as a complication of long-standing diabetes. Macular edema can also be associated with poor blood sugar control, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels.

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