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.