Statins - The 'Ayes' Have It

Cataracts can be Completely Cured, can Strokes and Heart Attacks?

The Bi-Lateral Cataract expert Professor Charles Claoué, commenting on the recent Mansi study and reports that statins cause cataracts says, “This is an extremely interesting study, which yet again shows that medicines are two-edged swords”. There are very few medicines that do not have side-effects and so doctors are constantly having to battle against the primary pathology and balance this against any less significant negative effects.

Professor Charles Claoué  goes on to say, “Without this study on such a large population, we would have never known that Statin drugs appear to increase the risk of developing cataract. The good news is that if performed by an expert, cataract surgery is extremely safe and produces a total cure. In contrast, the complications of high cholesterol (strokes and heart attacks) are much less desirable. I have seen some evidence that Statins may also have a protective effect in glaucoma, although this is again from very large population studies. There is clearly no ophthalmic reason for patients to be concerned about being advised to take this group of drugs.”

Mansi Study Summary

The study found that those taking the cholesterol-lowering medication had a 9% increased risk of developing cataracts - as reported by Ishak Mansi, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. Published online in JAMA Ophthalmology the use of statins remained significantly associated with cataracts.

This is an important finding as statins are being increasingly prescribed by GPs to control lipid levels. The authors of the study found an inverse relationship with levels of LDL cholesterol and cataract risk, but not for levels of HDL cholesterol.

The usual recommendations for the avoidance of cataracts include:

  • a balanced diet,
  • healthy lifestyle,
  • no smoking, and
  • protection from ultraviolet light, along with
  • strict glycemic control for diabetics.

Statins – The 'Ayes' Have It

Doctors add the additional caution for patients taking steroidal medications for any reason, because those drugs are associated with both cataracts and glaucoma.

Other experts commenting on the results from this study say that the benefits of statins outweigh the risk of cataracts. With expert surgical tecnique and latest procedures cataracts can be completely cured, whereas a 'cure' is far less likely in patients who have suffered from a stroke or heart attack as a direct result of elevated blood lipid levels.

Has a sudden onset. Full medical glossary
On both sides of the body Full medical glossary
A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
Loss of transparency of the lens of the eye. Full medical glossary
A substance present in many tissues and an important constituent of cell membranes although high concentrations of a certain type of cholesterol in the blood are unhealthy. Full medical glossary
A condition that is linked to, or is a consequence of, another disease or procedure. Full medical glossary
Increased pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure), which leads to visual loss. Full medical glossary
The death of a section of heart muscle caused by an interruption in its blood supply. Also called a myocardial infarction. Full medical glossary
One of a class of drugs that inhibit cholesterol formation in the liver. Full medical glossary
A class of drugs that inhibit cholesterol formation in the liver. Full medical glossary
Any sudden neurological problem caused by a bleed or a clot in a blood vessel. Full medical glossary