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A Common Medication May Increase Your Risk For Cataracts

February 19, 2015

A recent comprehensive study examined the effects of statins on cataract formation. Researchers have found that use of statins is linked to an increased risk for cataract development.

A Comprehensive Study

This study, the largest of its kind conducted to date, sheds light on the relationship between statins and cataracts. Previous studies gave mixed results.

Statins are commonly prescribed medications used to treat high cholesterol.

An Increased Risk of Cataracts

Researchers compared 13, 626 patients using statins to 32, 623 non-users ages 30-85. The average length of statin use was two years. The findings were clear: users of statins experienced a 9-27% increased risk of cataracts when compared to non-users.

Cataracts are the most common vision disorder in patients over 60. They occur when the viscous fluid in the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. A surgical procedure is required to remove and replace the clouded lens, thus restoring sight.

 cataracts

While scientists are not certain exactly how statins act to cause cataracts, they theorize that the dugs may have an impact on the oxidation process, the most common cause of cortical and nuclear cataracts. The cholesterol-inhibiting properties of statins may also interfere with cell regeneration in the optical lens, which requires cholesterol to maintain its transparency.

Cataract Risk In Perspective

Although statin use in the study was associated with an increased risk of cataract formation, the benefits of statin use for patients with a high risk of heart disease far outweigh the side effects. Dr. Ishak Mansi, professor of medicine at the University of Texas, explains, “If a patient takes this medication because he is at high risk for heart disease, or already has heart disease, the proven benefit of statins is much greater than the suspected risk of cataracts. But they have side effects, and doctors should not prescribe this medication lightly.”

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss. Almost 22 million Americans aged 40 and over suffer from cataracts. By age 80, this increases to over half the population. Surgery to remove cataracts is among the most commonly performed procedures – each year over 3 million Americans have it performed. The success rate of cataract surgeries is 98% with very few patients suffering postoperative complications.

Dr. Silverman and the OCLI team bring together a wealth of experience and the very latest in laser technology. Cited as one of the best physicians in the metro New York area, Dr. Silverman and his team offer a full array of services for all your vision needs.

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