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Statins may cut risk of cataracts by almost half

Cholesterol-lowering “statin” drugs, such as Lipitor or Zocor, may protect the eyes as well as the heart. In a study of older adults, people who took statins had almost a 50 percent reduced risk of developing a cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye.
/ Source: Reuters

Cholesterol-lowering “statin” drugs, such as Lipitor or Zocor, may protect the eyes as well as the heart. In a study of older adults, people who took statins had almost a 50 percent reduced risk of developing a cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye.

“Because a protective influence from statins on cataract could have potentially important health care implications, this relationship needs confirmation and exploration,” researchers conclude.

Dr. Jennifer S. L. Tan of the University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues evaluated the association between statin use and the development of cataracts in 3,654 elderly subjects enrolled between 1992 and 1994 in the Blue Mountain Eye Study.

Subjects were reevaluated at five and 10 years after they entered the study. At 10 years, 1,952 subjects were re-assessed.

Results showed that people who took statins had a 48 percent reduced risk of developing any type of cataract. The result held up when the team took into account the subject’s age, gender and existing risk factors for cataracts.

Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in the development of cataracts. Therefore, researchers say it is plausible that treatment with statins, which are thought to have antioxidant as well as cholesterol-lowering properties, could protect against this common age-related eye problem.