Long-term use of statins, medications commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol, may be associated with a reduced risk of glaucoma among patients with cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol, according to an article in the June issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology
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According to information in the article, the use of statins has been associated with a lowered risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a disorder of the retina that can cause gradual vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness among European-descended people older than 65 years.
Gerald McGwin, Jr., M.S., Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues investigated whether oral statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications are associated with any change in the risk of glaucoma, an eye disease characterized by increased pressure in the eye.
The researchers used data from the medical records of 667 men aged 50 or older with a new diagnosis of glaucoma between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 2001. The researchers compared these men to 6,667 control patients (men older than 50 without a diagnosis of glaucoma). Prescription records were searched for statin use as well as additional medications to lower cholesterol for control participants and patients with glaucoma.
The researchers found that patients who used statins for 24 months or more had a significant reduction in risk for glaucoma. The use of nonstatin cholesterol-lowering medications was also associated with a significantly reduced risk for glaucoma.
The researchers write that "Initial examination of an administrative clinical database indicates the intriguing possibility that long-term use of oral statins may be associated with a reduced risk of open-angle glaucoma, particularly among those with cardiovascular and lipid diseases. Nonstatin cholesterol-lowering agents were also associated with a reduced risk of having open-angle glaucoma."