Statin use may be linked to increased cataract risk

September 1, 2012
Tracey Walker
Tracey Walker

A recent study indicates that patients taking statins have a higher risk of developing cataracts.

Individuals taking statins are at higher risk of developing cataract at an earlier age than those not taking them, according to a study published in the August issue of Optometry and Vision Science, the official journal of the American Academy of Optometry.

"There is an association between statin use and the development of cataract in patients with and without diabetes," one of the study's authors Elizabeth Irving, OD, PhD, professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, told Formulary.

The study included 6,397 patients seen at the optometry clinic at the University of Waterloo from 2007 to 2008. Of this group, 452 patients had type 2 diabetes. Statin use and type 2 diabetes were evaluated as possible risk factors for age-related cataracts, controlling for patient gender, smoking, and high blood pressure.

Type 2 diabetes was associated with a higher risk compared with cholesterol-lowering treatment (82% vs 57%). The associations differ depending on the type of cataract. For example, the association of diabetes with a particular type of cataract, posterior subcapsular cataract, was not statistically significant when statin use was controlled for.

A 50% probability of cataract in statin users occurred at age 51.7 years and 54.9 years in patients with type 2 diabetes and without diabetes, respectively. In non-statin users, it was significantly later, at age 55.1 and 57.3 years for patients with type 2 diabetes and without diabetes (P<.001).

"Diabetes, statin use and cataract are all common in the population," Dr Irving said. "There would potentially be benefit to developing cholesterol-lowering drugs for which this association does not exist. There would also appear to be benefits to finding ways of reducing the numbers of persons needing to take these drugs."