According to a number of studies, statins have an anti-inflammatory effect in addition to their cholesterol-lowering effect. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of  Tennessee examined the association between oral statin use and dry eye signs and symptoms. Yinxi Yu, MS, presented the group’s findings at the 2021 virtual ARVO meeting. She reported that statin use wasn’t associated with severity of symptoms among moderate and severe DED, but noted that higher-intensity statins reduced MGD.

The study was composed of participants from the DREAM study, a randomized, multi-center clinical trial that evaluated the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on dry eye treatment. The researchers collected self-reported statin use at baseline and classified it as low-, moderate- and high-intensity, based on the American College of Cardiology guidelines. They evaluated DED at baseline with the OSDI, TBUT, Schirmer’s test, corneal fluorescein staining, conjunctival lissamine green staining and MGD status.

At baseline, 129 of the 535 DREAM study participants with moderate to severe DED reported statin use. Of these, 15 were low-intensity, 77 were moderate-intensity and 31 were high-intensity statin users. The team found that statin users were significantly older than non-statin users (mean age 64.7 vs. 55.9).

Upon analysis of combined baseline, six- and 12-month data, the researchers found no association between statin use and severity of dry eye signs or symptoms. They did, however, find that higher intensity statin use was associated with less severe MGD. The researchers pointed out in their poster, “The mean score for non-users was similar to the mean score for moderate-intensity users.”

They concluded, “Further analysis is needed to identify whether there is a specific type of MGD associated with intensity of statin use.”

Yu Y, Maguire MG, Roy N, et al. Association of oral statin use with dry eye symptoms and signs in the DRy Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) study. ARVO Meeting 2021.