Can statin treatment reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease?

Posted by Medivizor on Sep 16, 2020 in Diabetes mellitus |

In a nutshell

This study examined the role of statin (cholesterol-lowering) therapy in lowering the risk of diabetic eye disease and sight-threatening complications of diabetes. They found that patients taking a statins were less likely to suffer from advanced diabetic eye disease than those not taking a statin.  

Some background

Diabetes affects the blood vessels in the eye. This can cause a failure of the retina (the part of the eye responsible for sight). This is known as diabetic retinopathy (DR). It can range from mild changes to advanced, sight-threatening disease which requires laser treatment, eye injections or surgery to prevent blindness.
Previous research has shown that cholesterol-lowering treatment is beneficial in reducing the risk of DR. There are two main types of cholesterol-lowering medications that are commonly used; fibrates and statins. Statins are a popular treatment because they are safe and cause few side effects. However, it has not been clearly shown whether statins are beneficial in preventing diabetic eye disease.

Methods & findings

This study included 37,894 patients with diabetes and high cholesterol levels. 18,947 patients were not on cholesterol-lowering treatment (group 1) and 18,947 similar patients who were on statin treatment (group 2). They looked at how many patients in each group developed diabetic eye disease over the course of a year. Patients were followed up for an average of 7.3 years (group 1) and 7.6 years (group 2).
Patients in group 2 were 14% less likely to develop DR compared to group 1. They were also 36% less likely to develop advanced DR, and they were 38-40% less likely to develop sight-threatening complications of DR. 
Participants in group 1 were also less likely to require sight-saving interventions, and they were 19% less likely to suffer from a heart attack or other heart related events. The benefit was greatest for those patients who were on high dose statins and who took their medication every day.

The bottom line

This study showed that patients on statin treatment were significantly less likely to develop diabetic eye disease and sight-threatening complications of diabetes. 

The fine print

This study is based on medical records and involved Asian patients only. Further studies are required.

What’s next?

Speak to your physician about the benefits of intensive cholesterol-lowering treatment in reducing your risk of DR.

Published By :
JAMA ophthalmology

Original Title :
Association of Statin Therapy With Prevention of Vision-Threatening Diabetic Retinopathy.

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