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First Time Bisphosphonate Users at Risk for Eye Disorders

Apr 2, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

Two serious eye disorders - anterior uveitis and scleritis - could be potential side effects for new users of Fosamax and other oral bisphosphonates, according to study published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. According to the study's findings, one excess case of uveitis could be expected to occur for every 1,100 new bisphosphonate prescriptions, and one additional case of scleritis for every 370 new users.

Researchers from the Child and Family Research Institute and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, undertook a study to examine and quantify the risk associated with uveitis or scleritis and oral bisphosphonates because the literature is limited, though cases have been reported among users of the drugs. They included 934,147 people in British Columbia who had visited an ophthalmologist between 2000 and 2007. Of the total, 10,827 were first-time users of bisphosphonates and 923,320 were nonusers.

The researchers found that the incidence rate for uveitis in first-time users was 29/10 000 person-years and 63/10 000 person-years for scleritis compared with 20/10 000 person-years for uveitis and 63/10 000 for scleritis in nonusers

"The risk of inflammatory ocular adverse events, including scleritis and uveitis, is not highlighted in most package inserts included with oral bisphosphonates," the authors conclude. "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."

Symptoms of uvietis include eye redness, eye pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, dark floating spots in the field of vision, decreased vision, and a whitish area (hypopyon) inside the lower part of the colored area of the eye (iris).   Symptoms of scleritis include blurred vision, severe eye pain, red patches on the normally white part of the eye, painful sensitivity to light, and tearing of the eye.

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