statins for glaucoma

A recent study examined the effects of statins on the risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a condition where there is increased pressure in the eye, which affects the optic nerve, potentially leading to blindness. A recent study carried out at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, investigated the effects of statins (drugs typically used to lower cholesterol) on the risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma.

During this study, researchers followed 136,782 individuals who were over the age of 40 years and found that 886 of them developed primary open-angle glaucoma over a 15-year period. The researchers collected their data using questionnaires that were given to the study participants.

The results of the study showed that using statins for five years or more decreases the chance of developing primary open-angle glaucoma by 21%.  The results also demonstrated that an increase in total serum cholesterol of 20mg/dL increases the risk of developing this form of glaucoma by 7%. Therefore, these results strongly suggest that high levels of cholesterol increase your risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma and that statins, a cholesterol-lowering drug, can, therefore, decrease this risk.

However, it must be highlighted that one of the weaknesses of this study is that the data has been obtained from participants who have self-reported, which relies on participants’ memories and own representation of events, increasing the risk of error. It should be stressed that the study does not conclude that people at high risk of developing glaucoma should take statins as a preventive measure. Further clinical trials are necessary to replicate these findings in a larger population before any decisions can be made regarding the use of statins to prevent primary open-angle glaucoma.

Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer

References:

Kang, J.H. et al 2019. Association of Statin Use and High Serum Cholesterol Levels With Risk of Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. [Online]. [29 June 2019]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31046067

Eurekalert . 2019. Long-term statin use associated with lower glaucoma risk. [Online]. [29 June 2019]. Available from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-06/bawh-lsu062619.php

Image by chezbeate from Pixabay

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