Novo Nordisk lists vision changes among the potentially serious side effects of the Type 2 Diabetes drug Ozempic (semaglutide). If you have recently been prescribed Ozempic or are considering it as a treatment option for blood sugar control, you may be wondering what type of vision changes Novo Nordisk is referring to and what the associated risks might be for you.

In this post, the knowledgeable team at has compiled an overview of what is currently known about how semaglutide may affect the eyes. Use the information below as a jumping-off point for a more in-depth conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider. They will best be able to advise you on whether or not Ozempic may be the right drug for your particular needs and circumstances.

What Is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide belongs to the class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It imitates an incretin hormone naturally produced in the human gut (GLP-1) in response to food.

Semaglutide binds to GLP-1 receptor sites and lowers blood sugar levels by stimulating pancreatic insulin release and reducing glucagon production. It also slows down gastric emptying (the rate at which food leaves the stomach), which slows down the entire digestive process and promotes feelings of satiety (fullness).

In addition to blood sugar control, semaglutide is also associated with healthy weight loss outcomes in many patients. For this reason, Ozempic is sometimes prescribed off-label for weight management—even in patients without Type 2 Diabetes.

Semaglutide is the active ingredient in the brand-name drugs Rybelsus, Ozempic, and Wegovy (all manufactured by Novo Nordisk). While Wegovy is FDA-approved as a weight loss drug, Rybelsus and Ozempic are approved for lowering blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 Diabetes. Ozempic is also FDA-approved for lowering the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in adult patients with Type 2 Diabetes and established cardiovascular disease.

How Does Semaglutide Affect the Eyes?

Changes in blood sugar levels can impact the shape of the human eye’s lens. As semaglutide controls blood sugar levels, this is often the cause of the blurred vision associated with Ozempic usage. Often, vision changes caused by Ozempic resolve spontaneously over a period of time as the eye adjusts. In older adults, the adjustment period may be longer. If you experience any vision changes while taking Ozempic, speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

Can Ozempic Make Diabetic Retinopathy Worse?

Though it may seem like a paradox, a substantial drop in blood glucose levels (glycemic control) such as may occur after bariatric surgery or a pancreas transplant has actually been shown to be associated with the early worsening of Diabetic Retinopathy in patients with Diabetes. Because Ozempic can cause such a drop (lowering blood sugar levels is, indeed, the drug’s primary purpose), it follows that worsening Diabetic Retinopathy may be a risk for some patients who take it.

An extensive trial known as FOCUS (currently ongoing) is studying the long-term impacts of semaglutide on Diabetic Retinopathy in adults with Type 2 Diabetes. Though more data is needed, worsening Diabetic Retinopathy is a potential side effect of Ozempic, and you should speak with your doctor if you have a history of Diabetic Retinopathy or are noticing vision changes or vision loss while on Ozempic. If you are at risk of Diabetic Retinopathy or any other type of diabetic eye disease (such as Diabetic Macular Edema, cataracts, or glaucoma), regular eye exams to monitor your eye health are strongly recommended.

Using Ozempic for Weight Loss

As Ozempic’s reputation for promoting healthy weight loss has surged, the drug has been in high demand by people looking to shed pounds—even those without Type 2 Diabetes. With many doctors prescribing Ozempic off-label, should weight loss patients be concerned about the potential for increased vision problems or diseases?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that many eye health professionals believe it is important to be aware of the correlation between Ozempic and vision issues. More research on the long-term effects of semaglutide (including Wegovy) on vision changes in weight loss patients is needed, and caution should be exercised.


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About the Author

Ida Edlweiss Gumpal is a licensed Pharmacist and medical writer. She took her internships at Mercury Drug Corporation, Inc., a Hospital internship at De Vera Medical Center, Inc., and a Manufacturing internship at Philmed Laboratories, Inc. She has plans on attending medical school with the goal of specializing in Neurosurgery or Cardiothoracic surgery.