Cholesterol-lowering statins, such as Lipitor, may protect against age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, a leading cause of vision loss in older adults, a new study suggests.
AMD is the degeneration of the macula, which is the center part of the retina. The condition does not cause blindness but causes vision loss in the center of the eye, making routine activities – such as reading and driving – virtually impossible.
A Birmingham, Ala.-based research team compared people with AMD with people who did not have the disease. They found that those with AMD were more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure or vascular disease. However, this group was 50 percent less likely to be taking or have ever taken cholesterol-lowering statins.
Researchers are quick to point out that the results are preliminary and more studies are needed to show if statins do, in fact, offer some protection against AMD. Another recent study revealed that statin users were also more likely to develop cataracts, which is a fogging of the eye lens that can impair vision.
Statins, in particular Lipitor, have also recently been shown to put users at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is greater among postmenopausal women with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25, indicating that they are not overweight. Excess weight can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.