In a new study from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found a popular class of diabetes medications called GLP-1R agonists (Trulicity and Rybelsus) may also protect against glaucoma in diabetic patients.
Glaucoma affects 3 million Americans and is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop eye conditions.
In the study, the researchers looked at data of 1,961 diabetic patients who were new users of this class of drugs and matched them to 4,371 patients who did not use the drugs.
After 150 days on average, 10 patients in the medicated group were newly diagnosed with glaucoma (0.5%) compared to 58 patients (1.3%) in the control group.
The findings suggest that GLP-1 receptor agonists may decrease a diabetic patient’s risk of developing glaucoma by half.
The findings are in line with previous research, which found that GLP-1R agonists reduced neuroinflammation and prevented retinal ganglion cell death in mice.
This class of drugs has also shown similarly protective effects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in animal models, and clinical trials are underway to test the medications against these brain diseases in humans.
The team says it was very encouraging to see that a popular diabetes medication could significantly reduce the risk of developing glaucoma.
The study suggests that these medications warrant further study in this patient population.
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The study is published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. One author of the study is Qi N. Cui, MD, Ph.D.
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