Increase in NAION cases in U.S. due to Ozempic use

An increase in NAION cases in the U.S. are linked to patients using Ozempic or Wegovy treatment.

People taking Ozempic or Wegovy may have an increased risk of developing a rare form of blindness, a new study suggests.

The increase in NAION cases in the U.S. is a case in point, yet doctors say this should not deter patients from using these drugs to treat diabetes or obesity.

Last summer, doctors at Mass Eye and Ear noted an Increase in NAION cases in U.S., known as nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, a type of eye stroke that causes sudden, painless vision loss in one eye.


The condition is relatively uncommon, as many as 10 in 100,000 people in the general population may suffer from it, but physicians observed three cases in one week, and each of those patients was taking semaglutide medication.

A retrospective review of six years of medical records showed that people with diabetes were more than four times more likely to be diagnosed with NAION if they took prescription semaglutide.

Similarly, those who were overweight or obese were more than seven times more likely to have the condition if they took the medication.

The risk was highest during the first year after semaglutide prescription.

Increase in NAION cases in U.S. due to Ozempic use

The study, published Wednesday in the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology, cannot prove that semaglutide drugs cause NAION.

And the small number of patients, an average of about 100 cases a year were identified, from one specialized medical center may not be applicable to a broader population.

But the Increase in NAION cases in U.S. is still an outlier or unusual case.

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of the only semaglutide drugs in the U.S., stressed that the data from the new study are not sufficient to establish a causal association between semaglutide drug use and NAION.

Semaglutide prescriptions have skyrocketed in the U.S., which could increase the number of people at risk for a potential side effect.

In addition, NAION is the second leading cause of optic nerve blindness after glaucoma.

But even with increased risk, the disease remains relatively uncommon.

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