Drugs commonly used to help prevent osteoporosis may increase the risk of a serious inflammatory eye disease, Canadian researchers have discovered.
The drug, oral bisphosphonates, which is prescribed to those suffering from osteoporosis, has previously been linked to irregular heartbeat and esophageal and colon cancer.
This time around, to investigate the role of bisphosphonates and the eye disease uveitis (or scleritis), researchers from the Child and Family Research Institute and the University of British Columbia studied data of 934,147 people who had a ophthalmologist between 2000 and 2007.
Of the total, 10,827 were first-time users of bisphosphonates and 923,320 were non-users.
"We found that first-time users of bisphosphonates are at an increased risk of scleritis and uveitis," explains Dr Mahyar Etminan from the study.
"The risk of inflammatory ocular adverse events, including scleritis and uveitis, is not highlighted in most package inserts included with oral bisphosphonates.
"Our study highlights the need for clinicians to inform their patients about the signs and symptoms of scleritis and uveitis, so that prompt treatment may be sought and further complications averted."
Bisphosphonates are drugs that in certain situations can help to protect your bones against some of the effects of cancer, such as pain and weakness. They may also be used to reduce a raised calcium level in the blood.
The findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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