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Statins might lower risk of cataracts

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4:03pm, July 12, 2006

Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins might be slowing the formation of certain kinds of cataracts in people taking the drugs.

Ophthalmologist Barbara E. Klein of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her colleagues analyzed data from a vision study started in 1987. The participants received eye exams at the outset and every 5 years thereafter.

After reviewing eye-exam results from 1,299 trial participants, the researchers found that 210 had developed a nuclear cataract since their previous exam. About 12 percent of people taking a statin had developed a nuclear cataract, compared with 17 percent of people not taking such a drug, the team reports in the June 21 Journal of the American Medical Association. When the scientists eliminated smokers and people with diabetes from the analysis—both being groups known to have elevated risks of nuclear cataract—the risk reduction from statins still held.

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