Statins May Raise Risk of Cataracts – Or Not!

October 8, 2013 | All Posts, Cataract Healing, Cataract Surgery, Cataract Treatment

More than 30 million Americans ? that’s one in four of those 45 years of age or older ? take statins to combat high cholesterol in an attempt to lower the risk of heart disease.

Now a new observational study, published online on Sept. 19, 2013, in JAMA Ophthalmology, found that those who took statins were about 27 percent more likely to develop cataracts compared to non-users of statins, one of the most prescribed drugs in the U.S.

“Cataracts are a main cause of poor vision and blindness, specifically for the elderly,” said lead investigator Dr. Ishak Mansi from UT Southwestern Medical Center and the VA North Texas Health System in Dallas. “This study cannot prove that statins cause cataracts; rather, it identifies statin use as associated with a higher risk of being diagnosed with cataract.?

The more popular statins include Lipitor? and Crestor?, but Zocor? and Mevacor? are in wide use as well.

The study is the latest in a series of conflicting studies about the relationship between statins and cataract formation dating back to when statins were first introduced over 30 years ago.

Results have always been mixed, with some studies demonstrating causation and others showing prevention. Dr. John B. Kostis of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, N.J., believes that ?statins have a protective effect on cataracts.

?The bottom line is that statins prevent cataracts,” Dr. Kostis said during a presentation of an unpublished meta-analysis of 13 studies at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology, “But the bottom bottom line is, don’t be scared of cataracts when prescribing statins.”

“Statins reduce the risk of heart attacks, something that is frequently lethal,” said Dr. Alfred Sommer, a professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md., while cataract surgery is highly effective and has only rare complications.

Complications for cataracts surgery ?rare?? ? Not so.

Five percent of the people who have cataract surgery have problems that range from losing their vision to losing the ability to drive to more surgeries. That’s over 25,000 people a year with complications for one of the most performed operations in the U.S. and at a total cost of more than $5 billion.

For the observational study researchers analyzed medical records collected from a military health care database in Texas of people between 30 and 85 years old that received care between 2003 and 2010. One finding was that the risk of cataracts increased with the length of time a person was taking statins.

Dr. Chad Teeters, chief of cardiology at Highland Hospital at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center, said statins are life changing ? even life-saving ? and given the choice of preventing a heart attack and stroke, he wouldn’t take people off it. ?Twenty percent of Americans are going to die of heart disease each year and zero percent are going to die of cataracts.?

A study in the British Medical Journal reporting heart drugs may increase cataract risk had one specialist declare: ?To stop prescribing statins because of this would be crazy.?

Here are some other comments from doctors about the BMJ and JAMA studies: ?I don’t think you can read too much into it,? “It goes back to if there is a good reason for you to be on that statin, it outweighs the risk of a mild increase in risk of cataract,? and ?It’s not exactly a game changer.?

The comment that caught my eye was from Dr. Mansi: ?This should motivate people to do their part.? Their part? ? He defined it as: ?Quit smoking, eat healthy and be active so doctors don’t have to give you a tablet that may have some side effects.? He also encouraged people to make lifestyle changes to lower their cholesterol.

Well, I agree!

Whether it’s heart health or eye health, YOU are in charge. You can’t wait for a pill to save you when there’s so much more effective steps to take on your own for maximum health.

We’ve known for years that there’s a relationship between eye health and nutrition and we’ve learned the value of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Many people who were candidates for cataracts became proactive in their eye care, ate healthier, found the right supplements and discovered their cataracts never progressed or developed.

It happens.

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