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2015-01-21

Statins Linked to Cataracts and Eye Surgery

Here's more reason to urge caution if looking to use statin medications to address high cholesterol levels. Analyses of two distinct cohorts, one from Canada and another from the US, both suggest that statin therapy significantly elevates the risk of developing cataracts (severe enough to warrant surgery). These studies add to growing list of studies that link this class of drugs to various health conditions, and the second post I've made on this specific connection (click HERE to read that one).

As with the statin-diabetes link, the risk of cataracts is greatest among individuals who are already predisposed to develop the condition.


One of the groups studied consisted of men and women who went to ophthalmologists from 2000 to 2007, as recorded in British Columbia Ministry of Health databases. Cases consisted of 162,501 patients who during follow-up became candidates for surgery to correct cataracts; they were matched on the basis of age and follow-up time with 650,004 control subjects with no such history of cataracts. Together, their mean age was 73 years and they were followed for about 1.7 years.

For this group, the relative risk (RR) of cataracts severe enough for surgery associated with statin use for at least a year was 1.27 (meaning a 27% higher risk) adjusted for age, follow-up time, sex, and cataract risk factors prior to cohort entry, including diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, MI or stroke, and treatment with steroids or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The adjusted RR for lovastatin was 1.14 (14% higher risk) and for rosuvastatin was 1.42 (42% higher risk), with risks for other statins falling in between.


The other group studied came from the  IMS LifeLink, a US health claims database, and included men aged 40 to 85 years (mean about 72 years) seen from 2001 to 2011; the 45,065 patients who developed cataracts made up the cases and 450,650 subjects with no history of cataracts were the controls. Follow-up averaged 1.9 years.

The similarly adjusted RR for surgery-indicated cataracts associated with at least a year of statin therapy was 1.07. The RRs ranged from 1.03 for fluvastatin to 1.14 for lovastatin and reached significance for the latter agent and simvastatin, atorvastatin, and use of more than one statin; the risk was nonsignificant for pravastatin and rosuvastatin as well as fluvastatin.

If you want to read more on the topic, check out the previous post below under Related posts.

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Source: Statin Use and Risk for Cataract: A Nested Case-Control Study of 2 Populations in Canada and the United States

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, I had know idea that there was any link between statins and cataracts. I'm going to have to show this to my mother for sure. She is going to be getting cataract surgery pretty soon, and she is predisposed to statins. I'm sure that her doctor already knows all of these risks, but I think that it would be a good idea to double check. http://www.californiaeyespecialists.com/education/cataracts/

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