Statins linked to reduced glaucoma risk

Published on October 2, 2012 at 5:15 PM · No Comments

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

Cholesterol-lowering medications in the statin class could significantly reduce the risk for developing open-angle glaucoma (OAG), show data for more than 500,000 older-age US individuals with hyperlipidemia.

The findings indicate that the risk for OAG decreases by a significant 0.3% for every additional month of statin consumption compared with none.

The researchers also found that statins protected against the risk for converting from a diagnosis of "glaucoma suspect" to one of OAG, and the risk for receiving a prescription for intra-ocular pressure-reducing medication.

"Should statins be found to be protective against OAG; this may lead to novel prevention strategies for this visually disabling condition," suggest Joshua Stein (University of Michigan, Ann Arbour, USA) and co-investigators in Ophthalmology.

Of the 524,109 beneficiaries recorded in the i3 InVision Data Mart database (2001-2009) aged a mean 68 years, 316,182 (60.3%) had at least one statin prescription. A total of 10,266 (4.3%) were diagnosed with OAG, a further 6934 (14.0%) were suspected of having glaucoma, and 47,511 (17.0%) with OAG were prescribed at least one glaucoma medication during the data period.

After adjustment for variables including age, gender, and race, and comorbidities including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and sleep apnea, intermittent 1-year statin-takers, and those who took statins continuously for 2 years were a significant 4% and 8% less likely to develop OAG than their counterparts who had never taken statins.

Furthermore, the hazard for progressing from glaucoma suspect to an OAG diagnosis decreased by a significant 0.4% for every additional month of statin use versus none, and this risk reduced by 5.0% and 9.0% in those who took the drugs for 1 year over a 2-year period or for 2 years consecutively, respectively.

The corresponding risk reduction for needing OAG therapies was also a significant 0.4% for every additional month of statin use, and a respective 5.0% and 10.0% for 1-year intermittent and 2-year use.

Statin use appeared to have no effect on the risk for needing OAG surgery, note Stein et al.

"Statins' apparent ability to reduce glaucoma risk may be due to several factors, including improved blood flow to the optic nerve and retinal nerve cells and enhanced outflow of the aqueous fluid, which may reduce intraocular pressure," said Stein in a press release.

However, the researchers highlight that their findings may not be generalizable to populations without hyperlipidemia.

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