Potiga is a medication that has been approved since 2010 for partial seizures in adults. The medication works by opening potassium channels in neurons, which is unique among anti-seizure medications. It was demonstrated to reduce seizures by 25-50% or more in a substantial percentage of patients. As a result of this effect and the relatively low side effect profile compared to older seizure medications, Potiga quickly became popular with doctors.
As with any new type of medication, some side effects take years to become apparent. As patients who had participated in the FDA trials used the medication for longer periods of time disturbing new side effects began to arise. In fact, nearly 33% of patients who have been on Potiga for 4 years were found to have retinal damage. It is unknown if discontinuing Potiga will cause reversal of the damage. The retina can be thought of as the film in the camera of the eye. Damage to the retina can cause loss of clear vision, reduced night vision and or loss of color vision. The damage is not visible except when using special lenses and cameras during an eye examination. At Spectrum Eyecare in Peachtree City, Dr. John Henahan has the most advanced imaging devices available including a retinal camera that takes color pictures of the retina. He also has a machine called an OCT that can provide MRI like images of the different layers of tissue in the retina in order to better determine if damage is present.
Potiga can also cause skin discoloration that is often described as blue, grey-blue or brown. It tends to form around the lips or in nail bed (finger and toe).
As a result of these newly discovered side effects, it is critical that anyone using Potiga have a comprehensive eye examination every six months with special pictures of the retina to rule out damage.
If you or anyone you care about has epilepsy, be aware that a new “black box” warning about permanent damage to the eye has been added to the anti-seizure drug Potiga. The FDA announcement is here.
If you know of someone who might benefit from the comprehensive approach to eye exams that Dr. Henahan and his staff at Spectrum Eyecare take, feel free to contact the office here or call 770-487-0667. They accept most major medical insurances as well as Medicare.
Dr. Henahan is a board certified, fellowship trained eye doctor. He founded Spectrum Eyecare in 2008. He lives with his wife Lisa and their two sons right here in Peachtree City.