Close this search box.

Semaglutide may lead to rare eye condition, study shows


A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology has highlighted a potential link between semaglutide, a medication commonly used for diabetes and weight loss, and a rare eye condition known as nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), which can lead to blindness.

Key findings of the study

  • A significant association was found between the use of semaglutide and increased risk of developing NAION.
  • Patients with diabetes on semaglutide were more than four times more likely to develop NAION compared to those on other diabetes medications.
  • Similarly, those using semaglutide for obesity were over seven times more likely to be diagnosed with NAION than those using other weight loss drugs.

The study, which analyzed data from 16,827 patients at Mass Eye and Ear, suggests that the increased risk could be due to the drug’s effect on vascular health and blood flow, particularly to the optic nerve.

Expert insights

Dr. Joel Kopelman, an oculofacial plastic surgeon and board-certified ophthalmologist, explained that the vision loss associated with NAION is often severe and can progress rapidly. He emphasized the importance of understanding the underlying mechanisms by which semaglutide may contribute to this risk.

Additionally, Dr. Arun Gulani, an eye surgeon, noted that there is currently no established treatment for NAION, highlighting the urgency in addressing this potential side effect of semaglutide.

Preventive measures and future research

Experts suggest managing underlying health conditions like diabetes and hypertension as key preventive measures against NAION. Regular eye examinations and a healthy lifestyle are also recommended to mitigate risks.

The authors of the study call for further research to confirm these findings and to explore the mechanisms involved in more detail. This is crucial for developing strategies to minimize the risk of NAION among semaglutide users.


While the findings are preliminary, they underscore the importance of patient and health care provider awareness regarding the potential ocular side effects of semaglutide. Ongoing research and informed discussions are essential to safeguard the vision health of individuals using this medication.