The study was published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology (9/19/13) and found online. Researchers involved in the study compared the risk of developing cataracts between patients who used statins for more than 90 days and those who did not use statins. The researchers noted that the study was undertaken because investigators have hypothesized that the antioxidant effects of statin drugs could slow the aging process of the patient’s lens.
To conduct the study, researchers divided patients into two groups: those who received at least a 90-day supply of statins during 2005, and those who had never used a statin. More than 13,000 patients fell into the statin-user group, with more than 32,000 patients falling into the non-user group.
Researchers found that the risk of cataracts was around 27 percent higher in patients who used statins compared with those who did not. Even when researchers adjusted for confounding factors, the increased risk was still higher in statin users. The study’s authors concluded that the risk of cataracts should be weighed against the benefits of taking the medication and recommended further studies be conducted.
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the patient’s eye. The condition can cause vision problems requiring surgery. The study does not prove that statins cause cataracts but does suggest the two might be associated.
Statins are used to lower high blood cholesterol and thereby reduce the risks of heart attack and strokes, but the drugs have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and muscle problems.
READ MORE CRESTOR LEGAL NEWS
“These associations were driven almost exclusively by men and women at low risk for future cardiac events,” researchers wrote. They further noted that the study “provides new evidence that DTCA may promote over-diagnosis of high cholesterol and over-treatment for populations where risks of statin use may outweigh potential benefits.”