Cholesterol Drugs May Fight Glaucoma
Long-Term Use of Statins May Protect Eyes
June 14, 2004 -- Long-term use of cholesterol-lowering drugs
may not only protect your heart, it may also safeguard your eyesight and reduce
the risk of glaucoma.
New research suggests that men who used cholesterol-lowering
drugs, such as statins, for two years or more were less likely to develop the
most common type of glaucoma, known as open-angle glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause gradual loss of
side vision and eventually complete and irreversible loss of sight if
untreated. Everyone over age 60 has an increased risk for
glaucoma. Other groups at increased risk include blacks over age 40 and people
with a family history of the disease.
Researchers say the findings raise "the intriguing
possibility" that long-term use of statins may reduce the risk of glaucoma,
particularly among people with heart disease and high cholesterol. But further
study is needed to determine if use of these drugs can provide additional
benefits in the treatment of glaucoma.
Statins May Help Preserve Eyesight
In the study, published in the June issue of The Archives of
Ophthalmology, researchers looked at the medical records of 667 men over
the age of 50 who were diagnosed with glaucoma between 1997 and 2001 and
compared them with more than 6,000 similar men who did not have glaucoma.
The study showed that men who had used statins for two or more
years were 40% less likely to develop glaucoma than the others. Among men with
heart disease or high cholesterol, the risk of glaucoma was reduced by 37% with
long-term use of statins.
Use of other, non-statin cholesterol-lowering drugs was also
associated with a 41% lower incidence of glaucoma.
Researchers say previous studies have shown that use of statins
can also lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the
most common cause of blindness among people over 65.