A Link Between Statins and Cataracts

Statin users found to have a small increased risk of developing cataracts

(RxWiki News) While statin medications are taken to improve a patient's heart health, doing so may negatively affect that patient's eye health.

A recent study found that patients who used statins had a greater risk of developing cataracts (clouding of the lens) when compared to patients who had never used statins.

The researchers noted that the potential benefits and risks of using statins should be carefully considered.

"Learn about the risks and benefits of all the medications you take."

This study was led by Ishak Mansi, MD, with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. The research team examined the risk of developing cataracts among statin users and non-users.

Data from 46,249 patients between 30 and 85 years old were analyzed. The patients had been enrolled in two specific programs in the San Antonio Military Multi-Market Area between 2003 and 2010.

The researchers split these patients into two groups: 13,626 statin users who had received at least a 90-day supply of statins and 32,623 non-users who had never used statins during the study period.

Several factors were taken into account that could have influenced cataract development, including age, sex, obesity, smoking status, alcohol use, illicit drug use, glaucoma, vision defects/blindness, number of all hospital admissions, number of all outpatients visits and use of different medications.

Statin users were more likely to be male and obese, use tobacco more frequently, use more medications and use health care more frequently. The researchers found that patients who used statins had about a 27 percent greater risk of developing cataracts than patients who did not use statins.

The study authors noted that several other studies have found conflicting results with regards to the relationship between statin use and cataracts, but more recent studies are finding statin use to be connected with cataract development.

This study did have a few limitations, as noted by the authors, such as the use of surveys and administrative data rather than eye examinations to determine cataract development, and use of pharmacy data to determine statin use.

The authors concluded that, while more studies are needed to confirm these findings, patients and physicians should weigh the potential risks and benefits of statin use.

This study was published on September 19 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

One of the study authors reported potential conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.

Review Date: 
September 19, 2013